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How do the new Apple AirTags work?

These are more than your average locator device.

apple airtags tracker held in fingers
Image: Apple

Apple has finally revealed its AirTags at the 2021 Spring Loaded event, and the company has definitely put some effort into these things. More than just a simple location device, the AirTags, which come with a price tag of $29 each, utilize several technologies to make finding a tagged item as easy as possible.

Apple’s AirTags are designed to be attached to your keys, luggage, a briefcase, or anything else that you don’t want to lose. They launched alongside a few accessories, like keychains and luggage clips, that allow you to keep up with your things in style. But the coolest aspect of the AirTags might just be how they work.

The AirTags are fully integrated into the Apple Find My app, and they utilize a few different technologies to get the locating job done. Firstly, the chip inside of the AirTags uses a 6-8.5GHz frequency to transmit a signal to the Find My app over a relatively short range. This frequency allows the system to more precisely pinpoint the location of a device, making this location service more exact than other, Bluetooth locators.

Apple also utilizes Bluetooth locating on its AirTags, but there is also an answer for finding things outside of Bluetooth range. When you can’t find your device using the U1 chip or Bluetooth, you can use the Find My app to see the AirTags last known location on Apple Maps. From there, you can narrow down the location using the chip inside the AirTags.

AirTags can do all of this while maintaining your privacy

Maybe the coolest thing about all of this functionality is that all of the locating done with the Apple AirTags is completely encrypted, and your privacy is protected. When tracking an item through Apple Maps, all information sent to you is end-to-end encrypted and completely safe. This means that you can be sure that whatever item you have tagged is not being tracked by anyone other than you.

Because this data is end-to-end encrypted, this allows for some additional features. For example, other iPhone users are able to ping the location of an unknown AirTag back to that tag’s owner. Using this technology, you might be able to find something before you even realize you lost it.

Additionally, Apple said that the Bluetooth frequencies of the AirTags will be changed around, making them undiscoverable by anyone other than you. This is extremely important, because without it, anyone would be able to track any AirTags, making them the perfect target for theft.

The AirTags are a very cool addition to the Apple lineup. Items similar to this have been around for a little while now, but there hasn’t been anything that comes close to the functionality that the AirTags bring to the table.

The ability to track both long-range and more precisely in the short-range is incredible and will help the AirTags stand out from their competition. That coupled with the extra privacy measures taken make these a must-have for Apple fans who may have a hard time keeping up with things.

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