AirTag in-depth experience: is it reliable to tie it to a pet?

In Doraemon's universal pocket, there is a magical prop. It has various shapes such as crescent, round, heart, cross, etc. It is small and thin, and can be easily pasted on objects.

This item is called "Tracking Badge" by Doraemon. With the "radar map", the radio waves emitted by the tracker can be displayed on the map in real time. However, Nobita did not use these badges to prevent items from being lost, but gave them to his friends.

Combined with the shape of the badge, Nobita can observe the whereabouts of friends on the radar map in real time and take the opportunity to tease them. The badge can be accurately positioned whether it is on a hillside densely covered with jungle or a cardboard box on a corner of a street.

At the end of the story, friends discovered the secret that the badge can be located, and beat Nobita to the fat.

This magical badge of Fat Blue is no longer exclusive to science fiction plots. GPS locators have existed for a long time, and Apple’s recently released AirTag takes it a step further, accurate positioning to the centimeter level.

How to quickly get started with AirTag

Unlike the "tracking badges" in various shapes in the animation, AirTag has only one disc style to choose from. The front is made of white plastic, and the back is made of shiny metal. Small and exquisite, feel smooth.

It should be noted that the surface is very prone to scratches, especially the metal side. Perfectionists need to be cautious when starting.

The diameter of AirTag is about 3.2cm, which is a circle larger than a dollar coin. Although the weight is only 11 grams, you can still feel a certain amount of pressure.

The thickness is 0.8cm, which is equivalent to 4 one-yuan coins. Put it in a folding wallet, it will inevitably bulge up. As for the card package, the phenomenon of bulging will be more obvious. So if your wallet is relatively small, you should dispel this idea.

▲The effect of putting AirTag in big wallets, small wallets and card holders

When purchasing AirTag, you can engrave for free, and can accept up to 4 characters (Chinese characters, letters, numbers, and emoticons are all counted as one character). If you happen to be financially rich, you can buy 32 AirTags and engrave chess characters. It should be pretty cool.

When it comes to purchasing, there are a few details worth mentioning:

  1. A single purchase is 229 yuan, and a four-piece package is 779 yuan (approximately 195 yuan per one).
  2. You can also specify the engraving content separately when you purchase a four-piece package and choose the engraving service.
  3. There is only one serial number on the four-piece purchase voucher. You need to keep the purchase voucher when placing the order to facilitate after-sales.
  4. AirTag Hermes version of the keychain, bag decoration or luggage tag, the price includes a Hermes version of AirTag, the metal surface with the exclusive etching "Apple AirTag Hermes".
  5. In addition to Hermes, the official website also has three official accessories on sale. They are leather keychain (279 yuan), leather buckle (299 yuan), and silicone buckle (229 yuan). There are also two accessories from Belkin, namely a lanyard and a key chain, both of which are 98 yuan.

I use a silicone buckle. Although the workmanship is very good, the lock is safe and firm, but to be honest, it feels a bit hard and the texture is average. Why not buy a leather buckle for an additional 70 yuan. (Environmental protection warning)

With so many words, let’s talk about how to get started quickly and painlessly when you have AirTag.

There will be a protective film on the AirTag in the package. Remove it and AirTag will be activated by powering on.

▲ The left side is the state of not tearing the film

Bring it close to your iPhone, and the phone will automatically pop up a window to remind you "Connect via iCloud". It should be noted that the prerequisite for connecting AirTag is that the iPhone has been upgraded to iOS 14.5, otherwise a pop-up window will appear saying "Some functions required by this accessory require a higher version of iOS".

Next, you need to name the AirTag, you can use the official alternative, or you can drop it down to the end for customization. Then you need to select an emoji to represent the AirTag so that it can be displayed on the map.

It takes about 1 minute to complete the above steps. Now you can perform more operations on AirTag in the "Find" app.

The working logic of AirTag

The principle of AirTag is to use low-power Bluetooth for connection, and the ultra-wideband U1 chip for positioning and pointing. Its advantage is accurate positioning, which can be accurate to the centimeter level. The disadvantage is that the connection range is limited. When you are far away from the AirTag, it will automatically disconnect.

We actually tested the available distance. If there is no obvious obstruction, the diameter is about 30 meters. However, if there is a wall or other obstruction in the middle, the distance of successful connection will decrease linearly. Even if the distance is 5 or 6 meters, it will not be able to connect, or the signal will be too weak.

▲Display interface when the signal is poor

The original intention of AirTag is to help you find the items that you forgot to put. For example, the remote control slipped into the gap of the sofa, the key in which pocket is not known, etc. The best use scene is a fixed indoor place.

If you are using iPhone 11 and newer iPhones (excluding iPhone SE 2020), then using the ultra-wideband chip, you can use the "find search" function in the "find" application. After seeing the arrow with the direction indicator, follow the arrow to find it, and the result will be twice the result with half the effort.

We actually tested a lot of scenes, such as looking for umbrellas, small bags, keys, etc. at home, which are very applicable. When approaching the object being searched, the phone will also give out high-frequency vibration prompts.

If you are not sure about the location of an item, you can also play a sound to help you find it. However, this sound effect currently does not support customization or replacement, and it sounds too three-dimensional and not very direct.

Since AirTag does not have a built-in GPS, the main pain point it solves is "not found" rather than "lost." But if you lose your item with AirTag outdoors, there is still a way to retrieve it.

First, in the search application, bind your personal contact information to AirTag, and turn on "Lost Mode" when it is lost. In this way, after your AirTag is found, touch the AirTag with the NFC area of ​​your iPhone or Android phone, and a web link will automatically pop up, which contains your contact information, which is convenient for contact and return.

▲ Setting interface of lost mode

Even if no one found it, or didn't take the initiative to contact you after it was found. Then AirTag also uses low energy Bluetooth to broadcast, automatically "hook up" the iPhone or Mac connected to the surrounding network.

Using Apple's powerful "find" network, AirTag can anonymously upload location information to the cloud via the Bluetooth and data of other iPhones or Macs. Then you can see the general location of AirTag updates on your iPhone.

This location is rather vague after actual measurement, and the displayed location may be separated by a neighborhood or a street from the actual location. You may need to explore and investigate on the spot until you enter the effective range that can trigger precise positioning.

In case there is no connected iPhone or Mac passing by the lost AirTag, then the location it displays is where you left it. Just go back and find it according to the location.

Ten questions and ten answers about AirTag

1. Can I use models earlier than iPhone 11?

It can be connected and paired normally. The functional interface of "Find" is also similar to iPhone 11 and newer models. It can play sound, set loss mode, and so on.

However, since iPhone 11 models before the iPhone 11 do not have an ultra-wideband chip, there will be a very important feature missing. Taking the iPhone 7 Plus as an example, only the approximate location of AirTag can be seen, but this location is very vague and often drifts.

The iPhone 11 and newer models can use ultra-wideband chips to achieve more precise positioning and give specific directions and distance tips. This is the key to finding things.

▲ Interface comparison between iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 7 Plus

So if you want to experience all the functions of AirTag, it is best to have an iPhone 11 and a newer iPhone. (Android phones do not currently support AirTag pairing and connection).

2. How to charge AirTag?

AirTag cannot be recharged. Instead, it uses a replaceable CR2032 button battery. The price of this battery is about 10 yuan.

It is very simple to replace the battery. You can easily remove the cover and battery by turning the metal back cover of the AirTag counterclockwise.

According to the official statement, AirTag can last about one year. This is calculated based on four sounds a day and one positioning. The actual battery life varies from person to person.

The lack of a charging port also creates better waterproof conditions for AirTag. It supports IP67 waterproof and can be safely hung on items that are easy to contact with water bodies such as umbrellas.

3. How long does the AirTag make a sound when it leaves the owner?

Many friends care about this issue. According to Apple, AirTag will play a sound prompt after leaving the owner for a certain period of time.

Unfortunately, we have not measured how long "a certain time" means. Two days after AirTag left the owner, it still did not make any automatic sound. Even in these two days, AirTag has shifted, and there are connected iPhones nearby.

But when the article was finished, a friend close to Apple pointed out that my test time was too short. AirTag will automatically emit a sound to remind people around to notice it 3 days after it has left the owner and the location has moved.

Looking forward to the follow-up firmware update, it can be optimized for this problem, if it can support the user to customize the length of time to leave, it would be great. For example, after setting to leave the owner for 2 minutes, the phone will receive a prompt and the AirTag will make a sound. This will better solve the pain points of missing items.

4. Can it be hung on pets?

First of all, it must be clear that "living things" are not included in the usage scenarios suggested by Apple. Since the ultra-wideband technology is not real-time positioning like GPS, AirTag is not accurate for moving objects and cannot be accurately positioned.

If you wear this for your pet at home, it seems a bit superfluous. In a room of about 100 square meters in an ordinary family, it is very easy to find a pet, and AirTag is not needed. There are mines living in the "Big Bieye" at home, and the ability of the AirTag signal to penetrate walls is average, and it is very likely that there is a warning that the connection cannot be connected or the signal is not good.

If the pet is lost, AirTag is not useful. After all, pets may move their locations frequently, and AirTag can only update the location with the help of Apple devices connected to the Internet. Unless it is set to lost mode, the kind person who finds the pet will return to the owner through the contact information on AirTag.

Another problem is that attaching an AirTag to a pet's neck is likely to be rejected by them. After I put the AirTag on my owner, it kept scratching, kicking and biting, trying to remove it from the neck.

So the answer is very clear. It is not recommended to hang on pets. If there is a real need, it is better to buy a GPS anti-lost device for pets.

5. Can it be put on the boy/girlfriend?

Don't have such thoughts unless the other person enjoys it.

▲ Shake M's new toy (error)

6. Can it be placed on elderly/children who are unable to take care of themselves?

After the other party agrees, it is actually a very good use scenario. A waterproof phone sticker can also be affixed to the AirTag to facilitate contact with family members after loss.

7. How do I know if someone put AirTag on me?

If you are an iPhone user and carry someone else’s AirTag, your phone will receive a reminder that "AirTag is detected near you".

After opening the "Find" app, you can also see this AirTag tracking your route, and the starting point of the tracking is also clear. You can play the sound, or use the precise search function to find out this AirTag.

If you cannot determine the owner of this AirTag and the tracking purpose, you can follow Apple's instructions to remove its battery and deactivate the AirTag. If you feel that your personal safety is threatened, you can contact the local law enforcement agency and provide the AirTag and its serial number.

But if you are an Android user, you will not receive a pop-up notification, and you may need to rely on the iPhone users around you to find out for the first time. Or wait for the AirTag to be far away from the owner for a long time, it will automatically make a sound to find out. Looking forward to the follow-up firmware update, it can do a better job of anti-tracking for Android users.

8. Can it be used to find a car in the car?

Yes, but it's not as easy to use as expected.

Because AirTag is connected to the mobile phone via Bluetooth, it can only be connected within about 30 meters, and the precise search function is enabled. In the car, the shielding of the car body also weakens the AirTag signal.

In the actual test, even if the AirTag is placed near the front windshield glass with better signal, more than 10 meters, it will remind you that it cannot connect or the signal is too weak. Within 10 meters, without AirTag, human eyes can easily find the location of their car.

Due to the Bluetooth connection, it can be used normally even in an underground garage with no signal.

If you really want to use it to find a car, it may be more convenient to find a bicycle parked outside. One is that the shielding of the car body is negligible, and the other is that the model is small and it is difficult to observe the position with the naked eye. But it is best not to tie the AirTag directly to the handlebar unless you can afford it.

9. Can I hang it on my suitcase for consignment?

Friends who have tried all said yes, but the specific requirements must be followed by the local airport.

10. Can AirTag recognize altitude?

This generation of AirTag does not have a built-in altimeter, so it is impossible to know the specific height information. We tested whether AirTag can perceive the same location but different floors. The results of the experience are divided into the following two types:

  • The ceiling is too thick, and the mobile phone warns that the signal is too weak or cannot be connected
  • Standing under the AirTag, the phone still shows that there is a distance of 2 meters, but it can't give specific direction information, and it only displays "Nearby".

Some netizens also said that in some cases, the "Find" app will prompt AirTag "not on this layer." But we didn't stimulate this one when we tested it.

Is AirTag a good product?

In the application scenarios tested above, AirTag does not perform well in every scenario. So is AirTag still a good product for Apple?

In terms of functionality and search experience, it is undoubtedly a good product, but it must not be a popular product like the iPhone.

Judging from the scenarios recommended by Apple, AirTag is used in backpacks, earphones, wallets, umbrellas, handbags, coats, cameras, suitcases, keys, bicycles, and the experience is better.

If you really want to develop new features for it, or some fancy usage scenarios, but find that AirTag's performance is not satisfactory, you can't blame the product itself for reason.

In my opinion, AirTag is just a phased product. It may have a second and third generation, but it will not be as long as the iPhone. This is because Apple is accelerating the construction of a "find" network ecosystem and is trying to turn "everything into an AirTag."

Apple previously announced that it will open the "Find" network to third-party manufacturers. The three brands Belkin, Chipolo and VanMoof will be the first to provide new products that can be used with the "Find" app, such as electric bicycles, wireless headsets, and so on.

As more and more manufacturers join Apple’s "find" ecosystem, the umbrellas, water cups, and backpacks we buy in the future may have their own "find" function, and they will be connected to your "find" app together, and AirTag will lose its existence by then. the value of.

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