Apple AirTag evaluation

Not a perfect Apple product, mind you. AirTag has room to grow. However it truly encapsulates some critical points of Apple’s product design philosophy for each good and ill.

Apple has often excelled at purpose-constructed products. Think of Apple’s various “pod” products over time: iPod, HomePod, AirPods. All wonderful products constructed towards singular purposes (even if 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: provide help to find your lost stuff. And so they do that well! Very well, in fact. There are just some design choices that I question and ultimately hope Apple finds a way to address.

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

You can find AirTags online, and they’re now available in Apple Stores, as well as third-party retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. While delivery dates have already slipped into early Could, I count on that Apple will be able to keep up with demand for this particular product. If you wish to get your AirTags engraved, you must expect some shipping delay from Apple.

If I had to pick one phrase to summarize Apple’s approach to the AirTag’s design, it could be “unobtrusive, however not invisible.” One thing that’s 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 isn’t positioning AirTag as an anti-theft machine however as a loss prevention/recovery one.

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

Now, on a certain level, of course it doesn’t. Is Apple really going to place a gap at a single level of their excellent little circle? No, clearly not (also, now you need to buy an accessory, perhaps from Apple). Alternatively, it creates a notable situation for one of the primary uses of an item tracker, and that is keeping track of your keys!

Because if you’re going to put an AirTag in a bag or purse, then you definately’re fine just picking up an AirTag. But if you wish to put these in your keys, which I have 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’s like a slightly over-large go tile. Plus, the battery compartment is simple to open and close, making removing an old battery and changing it with a new one very simple.

The AirTag has solid hardware, I think Apple could’ve achieved more to expand its capabilities. Is this a dealbreaker for you? It isn’t for me. Once I think of the drawbacks introduced by the lack of a keyring gap versus the potential tracking energy of the Find My network, and then I think in regards to the comparatively limited networks of competing products, I think it’s definitely worth the trade-off, and thus, having to make one other purchase to connect AirTags to my keys.

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