So, like many others, I received my new AirTag on Friday. I went for just one to start with. I’m not travelling at all right now and don’t lose anything in the home, so I got one to try out with the plan of attaching it to my bike after I’d finished playing around with it.
It turns out that it took about 15 minutes. Because AirTag is boring.
This is not a criticism, though—quite the opposite.
I’ve been thinking that it’s very much like a smoke alarm. We all have them, but they don’t do anything and are static, uninteresting objects to look at. However, when they’re needed, when there is a fire, they are brilliant. They have one specific job. They either do it and do it well. Or you could die.
AirTag doesn’t quite have that amount of life or death pressure to succeed, but if you lose a suitcase containing expensive gear or some possessions with a real personal value, that can be devastating. If you depend on AirTag to help you find it and it fails, well, that would be maddening.
AirTag does its job, though. I hid it in the house and found it very quickly with the very nice, simply designed wayfinding UI in the Find My app. No fuss.
I also tested leaving it in a park corner for a while as people moved around. An hour later, it had a location in the Find My app, thanks to other users passing by. The location was accurate enough to also get quite close before the wayfinding kicked in. The sound you can activate was also solid. Even outside.
And... that was it. There aren’t any other features, really. Apple did well not to add any. Adding too many bells and whistles (except for the actual whistle) is sometimes a problem for the fruit company, distracting them from making things working perfectly. I’m glad they resisted here. Final props to them for making the battery replaceable and, in turn, making AirTag a sustainable product.
It should be mentioned that there are very valid concerns about specific use cases of AirTag being used for domestic abuse stalking, and I do hope Apple can address and remedy these. However, this is not a fault with the product, rather a failure on the implementation. AirTag still does its intended job well.
Some people don’t like that there is no hole to hook it on to things, but I like them like this. They’re so blank and featureless that it means you decide how you store them. Drop them loose in a bag? Sure! Put them in a keyring (third party ones are very cheap) and attach them to your keys or outside of your bag? Go for it! Get a Hermes ‘Luggage Tag’ and put it on your suitcase? Well, you could, I guess, but if you’ve got that amount of spare change lying around (£399!!), maybe put it towards helping people. Sorry, I’m judging you. Oh, and I’m not sorry.
Time will tell how well AirTag works in the wild when we start travelling again, but I’m going to bet in populated areas like cities, towns and airports we’re going to be able to track our ‘items’ very well.
Do we absolutely NEED to do this? No. But like the smoke alarm, it’s worth paying out that initial investment for peace of mind that if the worst comes to the worst, this boring accessory will save our lives. Or at least our belongings.