Apple announced the $29 AirTag, a new object tracker similar to Tile.
Apple announced the introduction of a Tile-like object tracker that will integrate with Apple’s apps and services. The tiny circular sticker, dubbed AirTag, will enable you to trace objects using Apple’s “Find My” app on iOS. Apple’s AirTags, like Tile, can be useful for monitoring things like keys and wallets, and you’ll get updates when you’re separated from them.
The AirTag is a compact puck-shaped computer with a built-in speaker, accelerometer, Bluetooth Low Energy, and a user-replaceable battery. Apple claims the tracker can last a year on a single charge, and you can toggle a missing mode with an NFC button.
On April 30th, AirTag will be eligible for $29, or $99 for a four-pack of the units. Preorders will open at 5 a.m. PT / 8 a.m. ET on Friday. Apple has also developed leather loop and key ring attachments for the AirTag, as well as collaborating with accessory manufacturers to develop luggage tag enclosures for the AirTag.
AirTags will appear in Apple’s Find My app, and when you try to locate an object, the app will play a sound on the tracker. Each AirTag also includes Apple’s U1 chip, which uses Ultra Wideband technology, vibration, and haptic feedback to help people find items more precisely.
AirTags don’t store any positioning data or history on the actual computer, and Apple claims that messages between an AirTag and the Find My network are encrypted end-to-end.
AirTags was first listed in iOS 13 beta copies nearly two years ago, and the AirTags name was also used in iOS 13.2. Last year, Apple mistakenly announced the AirTags name in a now-deleted help video. Apple has taken a long time to bring AirTags to fruition, despite speculation to the contrary
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Apple’s AirTags would clearly compete with Tile’s location-tracking technologies, but Tile has been attempting to insert the technology directly into Bluetooth chips in recent years. Tile previously collaborated with Qualcomm, Dialog Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, and Toshiba to make Tile connectivity a device choice.
Tile’s location-tracking network has already been integrated into devices from Boosted and Bose, and the company is working on its own AirTags rival that could help you locate missing objects through walls.
Tile’s wider scope would undoubtedly pose a threat to Apple in this region, but the greater convergence with iOS and iPhones would be a major challenge for Tile and other rivals such as Samsung’s $29.99 Galaxy SmartTags. Tile lodged a lawsuit with the European Commission accusing Apple of anti-competitive conduct, and Apple launched AirTags about a year later.
Tile claims that Apple’s iOS 13.5 Bluetooth settings upgrade has placed third-party monitoring apps at a disadvantage in favour of Apple’s own Find My service, which doesn’t have the same limitations by default.
Apple has categorically dismissed the charges, and it has recently opened up its Find My software to third-party applications. Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) accessory guidelines would extend to devices, meaning businesses will need to apply to be approved and have their goods monitored in the Find My app. Apple is now making a chipset standard available for third-party developers to use for the Ultra-Wideband technology used in Apple’s most recent iPhones.