Discovering the Latest Location Tech With Apple’s AirTag


Apple’s AirTag is the latest entrant in the Bluetooth tracking space, leveraging ultrawideband (UWB) technology to pinpoint locations to within a half inch.

The AirTag is an accessory that’s designed to fit on things like eyeglasses straps and keychains. It taps into the Find My network of Apple devices, which uses Bluetooth to signal its location to other people’s iPhones.

Find My App

When you attach an AirTag to something that’s likely to get lost, it can help find it using Apple’s built-in Find My app. The device uses Bluetooth to send a unique identifier to other compatible devices within range, which then transmit their own location details to Apple’s servers.

The AirTag has an Ultra-Wideband chip that can ping the Find My network with pinpoint accuracy. That’s important because it means it can ping devices in close proximity, even if they aren’t in Bluetooth range.

This feature is particularly useful for items that are frequently misplaced, like keys or wallets. That way, if you lose them in an airport or on the street, you won’t have to track them down on your own or spend time calling every other phone you know to ask where they are.

But there’s one issue that may scare some users away from the tiny gadgets, especially if they’re worried someone might use them for more nefarious purposes. That’s because the devices don’t have GPS technology, which makes them more susceptible to snooping.

Precision Finding

Apple’s AirTags are similar to Bluetooth trackers like Tile. But they have one standout feature that the Tiles don’t: Precision Finding.

This technology uses inputs from your iPhone’s camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to guide you to the AirTag using sound, visuals, and haptics. It’s an incredibly helpful feature that can help you locate your lost AirTag quickly and easily.

To use Precision Finding, you will need an iOS device running on the latest version. This includes the iPhone 11 or later.

The Apple U1 chip located in AirTags provides more accurate distance and direction tracking than standard Bluetooth proximity detection. This is because it uses “Ultrawide Band” technology, which calculates incredibly precise position information by calculating how long radio waves take to bounce between devices at the speed of light.

This feature is only supported on iPhones with the U1 chip, such as the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 or iPhone 12. However, some countries don’t allow Ultra Wideband chips to be used in mobile phones, so you may not be able to use Precision Finding if you live in these areas.

Sound Alerts

AirTags have long been an excellent way to keep track of small items that you don’t want to lose. But with the rise of nefarious uses for them, like stalking and vehicle theft, Apple has updated the way it alerts you about them.

One of those updates is called Sound Alerts. It’s a Twitch extension that lets broadcasters upload their own sounds or select top ones from other streamers and assign them to buttons that viewers can press to play the Sound Alert on their streams using Bits.

That’s an excellent feature for streamers, letting them add more interactivity to their streams and monetize them. The extension also has a leaderboard, which streamers can use to find which sounds are most popular among their viewers.

The update is available in iOS and macOS and is staggered, with a 10% cap through May 3. It turns up the volume on AirTags alerts to make them more findable.

Battery Life

A lot of people find AirTags really helpful, especially for tracking wandering luggage. The thing is, they’re only good as long as their batteries last — which can be pretty short.

Batteries have a finite life, and their longevity depends on how well the active chemicals in the cell can resist changes to the cells as they age. These changes are known as unwanted parasitic chemical effects, and they’re what eat away at the battery’s capacity and calendar life.

Battery cycle life is defined as the number of full charge – discharge cycles a battery can perform before its capacity drops below 80% of its rated capacity. The key factors that affect cycle life are time and the number of complete charge-discharge cycles.

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