Apple’s location tracking tools have finally arrived after years of speculation, but good things do indeed come to those who wait.
Almost a decade ago, a crow-funded start-up named Tile was launched with the aim of making a technological tracking device that could find your lost luggage. The idea was a huge success, and millions of units have been sold, but it was only a matter of time before the concept would be imitated by Apple.
When I say a matter of time, I mean a long time; AirTags were just announced last week, and first went on sale today. So the question is, after all the time that fans have spent frantically following forums and rooting out rumours wherever they can find them, have AirTags lived up to the hype?
While AirTags are striking in their similarity to Tile, there are a couple of key differences that make them a cut above.
Firstly, the Ultra Wideband tracking means that AirTags are far more accurate than Tile, which relies solely on Bluetooth to find your lost items and can’t hope to offer the same pinpoint precision.
Secondly, Apple has made the most of its ubiquity in modern life by using its vast network of iPhones, iPads and iMacs from around the world to aid in tracking your toggle when it’s out of range. Tile, which does have a Community Find feature, still can’t match this due to the presence of Apple products all around us, which has been leveraged to great effect.
Finally, the software and general ecosystem compatibility that Apple has provided with AirTags is highly enviable, with iCloud and Siri integration.
Now, detractors might argue that the attachment accessories, such as straps and keyrings, which are more or less essential for attaching the AirTags are unreasonably priced. And you know what? They’re right.
But simply put, if cost is your key concern, then Apple is not the right brand for you and frankly it never really has been. When you’re buying Apple products, you’re buying them for not only for their alluring looks, though AirTags do deliver in this regard too, with a sleek and polished finish that can be customised; you’re buying them for guaranteed excellent performance, seamless integration into the ecosystem, and let’s not kid ourselves, the prestige and luxury attached to the brand. It’s not without reason that you can buy official Hermès leather accoutrements for the AirTags.
We had to wait for 5G to join Apple’s product line after all their competitors had adopted it, and the brand still hasn’t released a foldable-screen phone years after Samsung and Huawei did (to a mixed response). Apple’s focus is getting it done well, not getting it done first, and as the brand’s newest product, AirTags delivered exactly what we wanted to see by perfecting a concept that already exists. It’s been worth the wait.