Apple's New AirTag Tracker Could Put Tile Out of the Game

Stefan Vazharov
·5 min read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff


“Hearst Magazines and Verizon Media may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.”

Apple unveiled the AirTag tracker during April’s Spring Loaded event, after months of anticipation. Sporting an affordable $29 price tag ($99 for a pack of four), the small accessory allows you to keep track of your other Apple gadgets.

Slightly bigger than a quarter, the sleek gadget is water- and dust-resistant with an IP67 rating, and it has an easily replaceable battery that can last over a year. You might think that this sounds quite similar to the ubiquitous Tile tracker, and it is. I was eager to test it out and see how it compares — AirTag could make Tile a thing of the past for Apple users.

After a week of living with several AirTags and accessories for them, I can confirm that they are way cooler, more intuitive, and infinitely more fun to use than any Tile offering. As long as you own a compatible Apple device, you don't need to consider any other option for tracking your belongings — here's why.

Setting Up and Using It Is Pure Apple Magic

  • It literally takes seconds to activate an AirTag

  • You don’t need to download an app and create an account to use it

  • The U1 chip and precision finding make Tile trackers feel dated

To get started using an AirTag, all you need to do is bring it in close proximity to an iPhone or iPad that’s running iOS or iPadOS 14.5. Similarly to the process of setting up AirPods, you will seen onscreen prompts that take seconds to complete. All you need to do is choose the item that you plan to track (e.g. keys, bag, luggage, etc.).

Once activated, the AirTag and its location will appear on a map in the Find My app on every Apple device you own. When in range of an iPhone or iPad, you can play a sound to discover the tracker. Despite its tiny size, the gadget produces a surprisingly powerful audio alert that you'll be able to hear in just about any setting.

If you have an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, which use Apple's U1 chip, your tracking features will be even more high tech. The AirTag is also equipped with a U1 chip, which means that you'll receive visual guidance and haptic feedback instead of just hearing a sound like you would with older iPhone model. This technology will allow you to track and find your belongings even in a challenging spot like a crowded outdoor space, a movie theater, or a packed restaurant. The precision makes its rivals feel like products from a bygone era.

My favorite feature about AirTags is that they don’t require you to download a third-party app, create an account, and remember yet another password in order to work — Tile and other trackers out there do. The Find My app is baked right into iOS and iPadOS, eliminating this tedious task.

Peerless Tracking Capabilities

  • Apple’s Find My network is considerably bigger than the Tile community

  • The AirTag has best-in-class privacy and security features

  • Lost mode makes returning AirTagged items easy

In case the AirTag is beyond the range of your iPhone, don’t worry. You will be able to track down your item by tapping into Apple’s giant (and constantly growing) Find My network, which currently consists of almost a billion devices. Once your AirTag comes close to another Apple gadget, it will update its whereabouts in the Find My app. This is one of the main reason to choose AirTag over Tile — the Tile community is nowhere near as big.

I really like that the AirTag has a dedicated lost mode, which will lock the tracker to your Apple ID, as well as send you a notification the moment someone finds it. There’s even an option to leave a phone number and message, which the person who discovers it can access.

It is important to know that, when it comes to privacy, the AirTag is as thought-out as any Apple product. The accessory won’t store your location history or other personal information, and the Find My network functionality relies on anonymous, encrypted data and rotating Bluetooth signals for enhanced security.

I applaud Apple for ensuring that an AirTag can’t become a tool for tracking your own location. If someone else’s tracker is moving with you over time, your iPhone will send a notification alongside instructions to disable it. Those who don’t have an iPhone will still receive an audio alert from an AirTag that hasn’t been with its owner for a while.

Wrap Up

The size of the Find My network and the AirTag’s unparalleled ease of use are enough to convince me that it’s a better option for Apple users than a Tile product. Anyone who switches to an AirTag will never look back to another tracker.

Like all Apple gadgets, the AirTag is accompanied by cool accessories like key ring holders, loops for attaching it to things, and even luggage tags. They range from affordable options that cost just a tad above $10, all the way to luxurious products created in collaboration with Hermès. You'll also have the option to engrave the gadget, too.

To be fair, Tile products do come in various form factors and price points, and generally work really well. They also have accessories, too. But that being said, AirTag is simply easier to use, which is why it's the tracker to get.

SHOP APPLE AIRTAG

You Might Also Like