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Three things to consider on Apple AirTag preorder day

Apple AirTags are available for pre-order, with the long-awaited tracking blocks coming in to make sure you never lose your keys (or backpack, bicycle or anything) again. Announced earlier this week at Apple’s first major hardware event in 2021, coin-sized trackers may be among the company’s cheapest products, but they may end up being the most useful in the group. Read three things you should know when entering AirTag orders.

A single AirTag costs $ 29, but you’ll probably want more than one

As you would expect, AirTags are quite inexpensive: $ 29 gives you a single unit. Apple also offers free recordings – you can choose a mix of text, numbers and emojis – so you can have your initials, perhaps, or a reference to any object to which you want to attach the AirTag. Just keep in mind that there are some limits to what you may have recorded, especially around what Apple considers to be in bad taste.

A pack of four AirTags, however, costs $ 99: you save $ 17 this way, compared to buying four individually. Considering that there are probably several items you want to track – some sets of keys, some bags and more – this probably makes sense to consider. Each one appears individually within the Find My app, having paired using the same simple system that we saw things like using AirPods.

Helping with the value proposition is the fact that, unlike most other Apple products on sale now, the battery in each AirTag is actually accessible to the user. Unlike, say, an iPad Pro or a MacBook, where you are expected to take it to an Apple Store or authorized service center to replace old batteries, an AirTag uses a standard CR2032 cell battery. Twist the stainless steel plate and you can remove the old one and insert a new one: Apple says that each battery will last more than a year of normal use.

In fact, there is a surprising amount going on within each tag, given the price. The U1 chipset includes not only Bluetooth, but an Ultra Wideband radio, which Find My uses to provide accurate directional information when you are trying to hunt down each AirTag.

Don’t forget about AirTag accessories

At first glance, AirTags are the epitome of Apple’s design: a harmonious disk of white plastic and shiny stainless steel, with no interruptions in buttons or anything else. The problem is that it also means that there is no hole to actually attach the AirTag to an item. To do this, Apple expects people to use accessories.

There are a few official AirTag accessories already. Apple offers a polyurethane keychain and a loop, priced from $29, while leather versions start at $39. If you’re feeling particularly flush, there are Hermès versions that are considerably more expensive than the AirTags themselves: the AirTag Hermès Bag Charm is $299, the AirTag Hermès Key Ring is $349, and the AirTag Hermès Luggage Tag is a hefty $449.

Unsurprisingly, however, the aftermarket has been quick to weigh in with its own alternatives. You may miss out on the luxury branding, but there are already numerous keychain tags and other cases and holders for AirTags available. Many are priced at under $10 or even less.

AirTags are mainly useful for iPhone owners

Sometimes, Apple makes a conscious effort to include Android users in its products. Other times, though, anybody who isn’t onboard the iOS and macOS train is probably going to feel left out, and that’s mostly the case for AirTag too. It’s not to say there’s no functionality whatsoever if you’re an Android user, but there are definitely better options for trackers out there if that’s the case.

You will not be able to track an AirTag from an Android device, as there is no version of the Find My app. Nor, in fact, can you pair the trackers with your Android phone. However, if you find an AirTag, you can still identify the owner using a non-Apple device.

If your phone supports NFC, tapping the AirTag on it will open a link: which will have the AirTag’s serial number on it. If the owner has marked you as lost, the message may include your contact details. However, this assumes that the owner has chosen to add his details, since it is optional to do so.

Android users looking for their own tracking options should probably still be looking at Tile. Its trackers work with Android and iOS devices: a Tile Mate costs $ 24.99, while a pair of Tile Pro costs $ 59.99 (running at the same price as a single AirTag).

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