Apple AirTag assessment
Not an ideal Apple product, mind you. AirTag has room to grow. But it actually encapsulates some critical aspects of Apple’s product design philosophy for each good and ill.
Apple has often excelled at objective-built 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: assist you to discover your lost stuff. And they try this well! Very well, in fact. There are just some design decisions that I question and ultimately 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 costly than the Tile Pro, AirTags are priced more competitively than I imagine many (myself included) feared.
You will discover AirTags on-line, 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 want to get your AirTags engraved, it is best to count on 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, but 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 tool that’s meant to be seen, even if only for a second. Maybe smartly, Apple isn’t positioning AirTag as an anti-theft device however as a loss prevention/recovery one.
Unsurprisingly, the AirTag itself is pretty easy, with the white shell of the tracker utterly unadorned save for any engraving you could have completed through the ordering process (side note: Apple, is there a particular reason why sure frequent, 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 indeed an AirTag, makes use of 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, after all it doesn’t. Is Apple really going to put a hole at a single level of their good little circle? No, clearly not (also, now it’s a must to purchase an accessory, possibly from Apple). However, it creates a notable challenge for one of many main 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, you then’re fine just picking up an AirTag. But if you wish to put these on your keys, which I have to emphasize, goes 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 different trackers, at the least as an object. It is like a slightly over-massive go tile. Plus, the battery compartment is straightforward to open and close, making removing an old battery and changing it with a new one very simple.
The AirTag has stable hardware, I think Apple might’ve finished more to broaden its capabilities. Is this a dealbreaker for you? It is not for me. Once I think of the drawbacks presented by the lack of a keyring hole versus the potential tracking energy of the Discover My network, after which I think about 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 attach AirTags to my keys.
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