Everything about the new Apple AirTag including what it will and won’t do

Last week, Apple announced quite a few new things including the AirTag. It’s a tracking device that you can attach (i.e. tag along) to your personal items like your bag, jacket or umbrella, and locate it on the “Find My” app on the iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.

Above: The box packaging for the airtag (4 pack), loop and key ring.

It’s about the size of a 50 cent coin; just thicker and curvier, and attaches to things through dedicated accessories like key rings and loops. Even Hermès has luxurious versions of these accessories — which figures. If you have an Hermès bag, you’d probably want a tracker on it.

Above: inside The 4 pack airtag box.

Above: Front and back of the airtag and its relative size to the hand.

Above: airtag loop in electric orange and key ring in red.

The accessories are necessary if you intend to hang the AirTag on your item, but of course you can just pop it in your bag or jacket pocket on its own.

Above: airtag key ring in saddle brown and loop in deep navy.

Above: the airtag inside the key ring.

It’s really easy to set up the AirTag. Just bring it near to an iPhone and a prompt will pop up asking if you’d like to connect the AirTag. There are suggestions for what you can attach your AirTag to, such as a backpack, bike, camera, handbag, headphones, jacket, keys, luggage, umbrella, and wallet, or you can assign a custom name and emoji yourself.

Above: pairing the air tag with the iphone.

Above: the airtag on a bag.

This is what the loop accessory looks like on a bag. I would probably just pop the AirTag directly into my bag instead of hanging it on the strap like this. The loop will look better on backpacks, duffel bags and luggage.

Speaking of backpacks, do not hang one on your kid’s bag. You may think this device will track the location of your child, but it won’t work the way you hope it to. What will actually happen: once your child is separated from you, the AirTag will start making a sound (it does this when it’s separated from the phone it was paired with). So you can imagine an alarm going off in the school bus or in class, and the only way to turn it off is to connect it to a phone (any phone) and manually disable it. So if you want to track your child with an AirTag, don’t do it; it’s not designed for tracking people and will sound off which is not something you want to happen. You’re just going to end up getting your kid in trouble with the teacher.

If you’re worried that someone may secretly slip an AirTag on you to keep track of your whereabouts, if you’re an iPhone user, don’t worry — it won’t work. If an AirTag that your phone is not connected to is following you around, your iPhone will sense it and send you an alert. You can then disable it or contact the owner of the AirTag to return it.

In that same vein, if your AirTag gets stolen (for example, someone pinches it off your luggage), you can track the location of it with the Find My app; the thief can of course disable the AirTag, but it will become useless to them. Just like a stolen iPhone, the device can only be unlocked and reset by the original iPhone it was paired with.

Above: the airtag on a camera

Unfortunately, you can’t pair an AirTag with an Android phone, but android phone users can still help contact the owner of a lost AirTag. How it works: every AirTag has an NFC chip inside, and as long as the Android has NFC capability (and most of them do), you can scan the AirTag, and a notification will pop up leading to a website, which will have instructions on how to return it to the rightful owner.

If an AirTag is planted on a person who uses an Android, it will automatically be disabled if it’s not connected to the paired iPhone within a three-day period. So again, Apple has put measures in place to prevent AirTags from tracking people. It’s really meant for personal belongings.

For in-depth real-world examples of what will happen if you try to use an AirTag to track someone, check out this article from Forbes. There are bound to be privacy issues and questions of stalking using the new AirTag, but it’s the same with every tracker available on the market.

The front of the AirTag is plain white, which leaves it open for customisation. You can do this for free when you purchase the AirTag online at apple.com.

Above: customising the airtag.

Other things to note: the battery is replaceable and lasts around a year. The AirTag is also water-resistant so it’ll be fine in the rain; just don’t take it swimming.

Apple AirTag is available from Friday 30 April 2021, priced at $45 (1 pack) and $149 (4 pack). Shop at apple.com.