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Tech Savvy: Apple AirTags help locate lost items

Apple, a major manufacturer of laptops, tablets and smartphones, now makes small location-tracking devices that can help a person find them.

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A man holds an Apple AirTag in the palm of his hand. Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash.com

For anyone who has ever misplaced or lost an important or valuable object, the feeling of abject hopelessness or bewilderment can be overwhelming.

Whether it be forgetfulness due to old age, multitasking one too many things or rushing around in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the placement of one thing or another.

Apple AirTags can help, however, locate or find those items one has forgotten, lost or in a worst-case scenario were stolen from their rightful owner.

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An Apple AirTag is shown with accessories, such as a foldable loop to hold the AirTag to make the AirTag easier to attach to items. Photo by Jonas Elia on Unsplash.com

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Apple’s new trackers are intended to make keeping track of things easy. They were unveiled last month at the maker’s “Spring Loaded” event, Apple’s first big launch of the year.

They are now available for purchase online from Apple. A single AirTag costs $29 while a four-pack costs $99 and can be personalized with free engraving from www.apple.com/shop . They are also available, however, from Amazon.com and Best Buy.

But what do they actually do and how do they actually work?

Apple recently began allowing its Find My app to locate lost items made by third-party companies, so it wasn't a complete surprise it would venture into the device-tracking market.

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AirTags resemble an oversized button or the metal endcap to a leg of an old-fashioned chair. Sleek and small, it’s like everything in Apple’s product line in terms of blending form, function and art.

Clip the small device to the chosen item — think objects that one tends to lose, misplace or may likely get stolen, such as keys, TV remotes or a laptop — preferably using one of Apple AirTag accessories like a keyring or loop specifically designed to hold the circular AirTag.

Or the AirTag can be affixed to an object by other unconventional methods that vary in effectiveness and reliability, such as double-sided tape, or use it by itself when it makes sense to, for example, slipping it into an inner pocket of a purse.

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A man uses his smartphone's GPS tracker to locate the AirTag's position on his device's display. Photo by Đức Trịnh on Unsplash.com


The small, lightweight, stainless steel disc with the Apple logo on one side can be paired with items like an iPhone, and it works with the smartphone’s Find My app.

The AirTag is water and dust resistant with a removable cover concealing the CR2032 battery that promises a year’s worth of battery life with everyday use.

AirTags can be given a name in the new items tab of the Find My app once the decision has been made to associate the AirTag to a particular object, such as bicycle versus snowblower, making it all that more useful for things that may be constantly borrowed or shared with others.

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An AirTag is attached to a smartphone to locate the expensive device in case it's lost or stolen. Photo by Anh Nhat on Unsplash.com

The Find My app can signal the AirTag’s built-in speaker to play a sound if it is within Bluetooth range. AirTags have Siri-support, too, so the iOS assistant can help locate the object.

The Find My app can also indicate how many feet away the AirTag is and in what direction.

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If you're out of Bluetooth range, you can put your AirTag into Lost mode and get a notification. And if somebody else finds the AirTag, they can use an iPhone, Android phone or NFC-capable device to view your contact number provided you have listed one.

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To use AirTags what is needed is a device running iOS 14.5 or later, an Apple ID to sign in to an iCloud account, and one of these compatible devices: iPhone SE, 6S or later; iPod Touch seventh-generation or later; iPad Pro, fifth-generation or later; iPad Air 2 or later; or iPad Mini 4.

Apple did not pioneer the field of consumer-friendly device-trackers or its underlying technology, but given their dominance in the field of smartphones, AirTags may be their next breakout hit.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL

Related Topics: TECHNOLOGY
I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write articles for the Wadena Pioneer Journal weekly newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.
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