AirTags - why we need them and how I use them
When Apple launched AirTags to help us “Lose your knack for losing things.”, many people were skeptical. Some didn’t know why Apple needed to enter this category of devices. Others saw a potential for abuse and stalking. People like me, who were already using similar devices from a competing company of Tile, embraced AirTags quickly. In this post I’d like to explain why I’m a fan of AirTags, why I have so many of them and what I use them for.
- Why a person like me, a father and a husband needs AirTags
- What I use AirTags for - practical examples
- How AirTags actually work?
- How I buy AirTags and AirTag accessories
- Why it’s great that Apple created AirTags and why I stopped using Tile
- Stalking and abuse using AirTags is a thing… mostly solved.
- The future of AirTags - fewer limits and better settings
- Are you or will you be using AirTags?
Why a person like me, a father and a husband needs AirTags
We’re a family of five - a husband and a wife with three kids of different ages. This means we’ve got many keys, many other important items to potentially lose and we are many people who seem to be constantly putting things NOT where they belong. That’s why we need a system to find these things. That’s why we embraced AirTags.
What I use AirTags for - practical examples
To give you an idea what AirTags can be used for, here’s a list of things we actually use them for:
- Car keys and spare car keys - both my wife’s and my car keys have AirTags on them. Whenever I’m asking my wife where the keys are and she answers “in my bag”, I don’t have to ask her “which bag?” anymore. I just locate them. Bonus while traveling and renting cars - I have a spare AirTag for the rental so that I don’t lose this very important key!
- House keys - we have two house keys hanging in our corridor with AirTags on them. This way anyone who leaves the house for a walk can take them and when they come back and fail to hang them back, we don’t have to search throughout the house to find them.
- Garage door remote - we keep our bikes in the garage - so when we want to just go on a bike ride, we take a garage door remote with AirTag on it.
- Bikes - speaking of bikes - I have AirTags on my kids’ bikes as a security measure - to both locate the kids when they go out on the bike and to make sure we can locate the bikes in case they get stolen.
- Main TV remote - we’re going to attach an AirTag to it finally. It just gets lost all the time somewhere in the house. Kids never put it back where it belongs and they later keep asking me about its whereabouts.
- Wallets - I don’t use a wallet anymore but some people do and there are wallets with built-in AirTag place.
- Backpacks - I have an AirTag in my main backpack and on my kids’ backpacks for the same reason I have them on the bikes. Security both for kids and for the backpacks.
- Checked-in luggage - I try to avoid checking-in luggage at the airport. I go backpack-only. But people have luck finding luggage using AirTags and this summer while traveling when I had to check-in luggage I did put an AirTag in it for safety.
- Children - yes, that’s right. My youngest just turned 6 and she loves to wander around. Especially when we’re in a Shopping Mall I instantly attach an AirTag to her. Gives me a peace of mind that in case she’s missing, we’ll be able to locate her.
How AirTags actually work?
The cool thing about AirTags is that they don’t rely on GPS but just on other iDevices near them. And there are more than a billion iPhones and iPads in the world so chances are pretty high that you’ll your AirTag will find itself near one quickly. When it does it communicates itself through that device in an anonymous way. Really cool technology and cool use of “crowdsourcing” kind of.
How I buy AirTags and AirTag accessories
I usually buy packs of 4 AirTags and I buy third-party AirTag holders on Amazon or Allegro.pl - the AirTag holders on Apple’s web site are totally overpriced. I can get a pack of 4 decent holders for 10 bucks.
Also, in Poland I use Allegro to buy AirTags from other sellers than Apple, because this way I save around 20 bucks on the packet of 4 AirTags. However, if you want Emoji engraved on your AirTags, you have to get them from the official Apple web site.
It’s also important to mention that AirTags are smartly done that they use the most common CR2032 batteries. This way when the AirTag’s battery is dead, it’s very easy to replace. I still remember early versions of Tile that had a battery built-in and you basically had to throw them away or recycle after a year.
Why it’s great that Apple created AirTags and why I stopped using Tile
When Tile launched, I got the pack of 4 of them and I was very happy with them. Later I got more packs of Tiles. However, Tile never got very popular and the promise of locating items outside of our home never came to fruition as they never got to the appropriate scale.
In Apple’s case they have an advantage of more than a billion active devices and many of them around wherever I am. This way I can locate things lost outside of my home.
Another big issue is Apple’s stance on privacy. I trust Apple more in this regard than anyone else. Especially that Tile has been bought by Life360, a company that has been known for selling people’s data to third parties without their users’ consent.
Stalking and abuse using AirTags is a thing… mostly solved.
AirTags has a dark side to it. Women report being stalked by people putting AirTags on them. There were reports of cars targeted by thieves tracking them using AirTags.
Apple has addressed these concerns by reducing the time it reports to people that they are being tracked. The problem is when a person being tracked by someone doesn’t have an iPhone but an Android phone. Then they need to download and open a Tracker Detect app.
These anti-stalking features are also sometimes acting out. Once I was on a walk with friends who had their AirTags on them and suddenly I got a report that I’m being tracked just because we were walking together. Like if the AirTag lost the connection to their iPhone. Or when my parents borrow my car with my car keys with AirTag - and they get a report they are being tracked - which they are, because I can see the location of the car thanks to that AirTag. So I had to explain to them that they will see a warning like this and they should just ignore it.
The future of AirTags - fewer limits and better settings
AirTags are a great product and I’m happy the way they work, but I have a few suggestions for improvements.
- Remove the limit of 16 AirTags - I know I’m an outlier with so many AirTags, but as you’ve seen from my usage, with a family of 5 there are many things that AirTags can be attached to. And when you have AirPods Pro, each earbud is treated as an AirTag so with me having a pair of AirPods, my limit goes down to 14. My temporary solution is to use one of my kids’ Apple IDs and their device as the place to store information on the less important devices with AirTags. However, as the father, I’d prefer to have all AirTags visible in my FindMy app.
- Improve the FindMy app to show AirTags of other family members - if we keep the limit of 16 AirTags per Apple ID, why don’t we add an option to show AirTags of family members in the FindMy app? I can already see the devices of my daughters in FindMy, so I should also be able to see their trackers. In fact, they should be able to choose if they want to show the tracker to other family members or not. This would be awesome.
- Don’t warn me about other family members AirTags - when my kids have AirTags and walk with me I don’t need to be warned. They are family after all!
- Give more settings to people afraid of being stalked - when a person is afraid of being stalked or has had it happen to them before, they should enable a setting in the iPhone to alert them about an alien AirTag as soon as possible. So they don’t have to wait a few hours to get an alert.
- Keep innovating on AirTags - I hope Apple doesn’t give up on these devices and keeps them around, even though there’s some pushback from people seeing more bad then good coming from it. I’m definitely in the pro-AirTag camp. With more tweaks and improvements.
Are you or will you be using AirTags?
I don’t get any commission from Apple for advertising AirTags but I do love how they work and I hope this post shows you how useful they can be. Especially to a family with a history of misplacing items all the time.