Apple may not have officially announced the AirTags trackers, but that didn’t stop the well-discussed “secret” tags from being inadvertently mentioned in an Apple Support video. The Tile-rivaling tracking tags are expected to launch this year and bring Find My iPhone-style location services to other items frequently lost, such as keys, bikes, and bags.
The tracking market is a potentially huge one, and Apple wading into it could have big repercussions. The company’s work on low-power Bluetooth and other location-based services, not to mention its OS-level integrations, puts it in a privileged position for making such a system – and the crowd network it could tap into for broader scale locating – work out.
That’s not new, but the mention of AirTags there is. “Offline finding enables this device and AirTags to be found when not connected to WiFi or cellular” the option reads. In the current public release of iOS 13.4, the message is the slightly more vague “Offline finding enables your devices to be found when not connected to WiFi or cellular.”
The expectation is that AirTags will be integrated into the new Find My app, which Apple launched as a standalone hub for location services. A new “Items” tab is believed to provide a home for anything AirTag-tagged, complete with icons for things like keys, bags, and bikes. As well as getting a notification when that item moves out of range of the iPhone, it’s also expected to support making a sound so that you can more readily locate keys lost between the sofa cushions, for example.
Not everybody is excited at the prospect, however. Tile is arguably the biggest name in the tracking tag segment right now, having updated with a wide range of new models late in 2019. It claims to collect more than 1.5 billion daily location updates, with each person with the Tile app on their phone anonymously scanning for nearby tags.