Apple AirTag assessment

Not an ideal Apple product, mind you. AirTag has room to grow. However it really encapsulates some critical facets of Apple’s product design philosophy for both good and ill.

Apple has normally excelled at objective-built products. Think of Apple’s various “pod” products through the years: iPod, HomePod, AirPods. All glorious products constructed towards singular purposes (even when the HomePod has now been discontinued, I still contend that it’s a wonderful speaker, just as Apple designed it to be).

AirTags are just such a product. Apple designed these little trackers to do one kind of thing: make it easier to find your misplaced stuff. And they do this well! Very well, in fact. There are just some design decisions that I question and finally hope Apple finds a way to address.

At $29, the AirTag value is right. A little more costly than its Tile Mate or Chipolo One competitors and a little less expensive than the Tile Pro, AirTags are priced more competitively than I consider many (myself included) feared.

Yow will discover AirTags online, and they are now available in Apple Stores, as well as third-party retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. While delivery dates have already slipped into early Might, I count on that Apple will be able to keep up with demand for this particular product. If you want to get your AirTags engraved, you should expect some shipping delay from Apple.

If I had to pick one phrase to summarize Apple’s approach to the AirTag’s design, it can be “unobtrusive, however not invisible.” One thing that is clear in everything from the software to the accessories to the precise AirTag itself is that this is a device that’s meant to be noticed, even when only for a second. Perhaps smartly, Apple is not positioning AirTag as an anti-theft device however as a loss prevention/recovery one.

Unsurprisingly, the AirTag itself is fairly simple, with the white shell of the tracker utterly unadorned save for any engraving you will have carried out throughout the ordering process (side note: Apple, is there a particular reason why sure common, helpful emoji, like keys, aren’t available for AirTag engraving?). On the flip side, the stainless steel battery cover is etched with writing, letting you know that this is indeed an AirTag, uses Bluetooth LE and Ultra Wideband, and that it’s assembled in China. All of this writing surrounds the matte etched Apple logo within the middle of the cover.

Now, on a certain level, after all it doesn’t. Is Apple really going to put a gap at a single point of their good little circle? No, obviously not (additionally, now you must purchase an accessory, possibly from Apple). However, it creates a notable situation for one of the major uses of an item tracker, and that’s keeping track of your keys!

Because if you are going to put an AirTag in a bag or purse, you then’re fine just picking up an AirTag. But if you want to put these in your keys, which I’ve to stress, is going to be the reason some people consider picking an AirTag up, you also should get some kind of carrying accessory that attaches your AirTag to your keys.

That aside, I actually like the design of the AirTag, as much or more than other trackers, at the least as an object. It is like a slightly over-giant go tile. Plus, the battery compartment is easy to open and shut, making removing an old battery and replacing it with a new one very simple.

The AirTag has solid hardware, I think Apple could’ve carried out more to increase its capabilities. Is this a dealbreaker for you? It isn’t for me. After I think of the drawbacks introduced by the lack of a keyring hole versus the potential tracking power of the Find My network, after which I think about the comparatively limited networks of competing products, I think it’s well worth the trade-off, and thus, having to make one other buy to attach AirTags to my keys.

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