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Apple Spring Loaded 2021: New AirTag tracker unveiled, iOS 14.5 release date

Apple's AirTags will retile for $29 for one unit.
Apple's AirTags will retile for $29 for one unit. (Apple)

The company has launched its AirTag tracking device, after several rumours and quite a bit of speculation about the device since it was first accidentally revealed by the company last year.

Apple on Tuesday launched its AirTag tracking device, after several rumours and quite a bit of speculation about the device since it was first accidentally revealed by the company last year. The device, which reminds one of Tile’s Bluetooth tracker can be affixed to items like your bag or slipped into your wallet so you can quickly locate it.

Apple’s new AirTag are essentially small tracking tiles that feature Bluetooth connectivity and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support that allow Apple’s devices to quickly calculate how far away the tracker is and inform the owner about their location. The presence of the UWB chip means that these trackers will provide more accurate results when used with the iPhone 11 and newer devices, which also feature a U1 ultra-wideband chip.

Apple's Precision Finding feature will direct you until you reach your AirTag connected object.
Apple's Precision Finding feature will direct you until you reach your AirTag connected object. (Apple)

The device uses Precision Finding and helps you navigate directly to your AirTag. This plugs in to the Find My network. Apple has also added a useful feature to the Find My app, to alert you about the presence of any AirTag that you don’t own “moving with you”. This should protect you from someone putting an AirTag or Find My compatible Bluetooth tracker into your bag or on your person.

While there were references to the AirTag in iOS 13, it was only earlier this year that Apple added a new “Items” tab on the Find My app on the latest beta versions of iOS 14.5, in a clear indication that the company intended to launch the devices this year. Users will soon be able to visit the Find My app as a centralised location to find not only their AirPods and other devices but also other objects attached to the new AirTags.

Apple's AirTag bag charm.
Apple's AirTag bag charm. (Apple)

Apple says the AirTag will be available in one and four packs for 3190 and 10900, respectively, from apple.com and through Apple Authorised Resellers at the end of the month, while AirTag accessories like the Leather Key Ring in Saddle Brown, (PRODUCT)RED, and Baltic Blue for 3590 the Leather Loop in Saddle Brown and (PRODUCT)RED will retail for 3990.

iOS 14.5 integration

The support for AirTag is expected to arrive with iOS 14.5 that is scheduled to arrive before the end of the month, according to Apple. The much-awaited update will also bring support for an alternative to FaceID authentication on the iPhone with the help of an Apple Watch, while also marking one of the biggest privacy initiatives from the Cupertino company in recent memory - App Tracking Transparency.

Find My on iOS 14.5
Find My on iOS 14.5 (Apple)

Read more: Apple Spring Loaded 2021: Apple podcast service, Tags, iPad expected

Once iOS 14.5 rolls out, App Developers will be expected to ask users for their consent before tracking them across apps on their iPhones, a move that has been roundly criticised by the advertising industry and Facebook, but lauded by privacy advocates and experts around the world. The update is expected to roll out by April end.

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