Apple could finally launch 'AirTags' in October

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 2020
Apple's long-rumored "AirTags" may finally launch before the end of 2020, with a report claiming Apple will be launching the item-tracking accessories during an event in late October.

AirTag Mockup
AirTag Mockup


Apple is preparing to launch the "iPhone 12" in an online event in the coming weeks, and as is typical for the event, Apple is anticipated to also launch other products at the same time. According to one report, one of the products in question could be "AirTags."

An unknown Chinese supplier provided information to Mac Otakara that Apple was getting ready to publicly announce the product during the "iPhone 12" event, alongside a new "Apple Watch Series 6."

The same source also alleged the usual September event would take place later than planned, with it predicted to happen in the second half of October. Other rumors have suggested similar October timing for the "iPhone 12" launch, though others have also put forward the idea that the event will continue in September as usual.

"AirTags" were originally believed to be prepared for launch earlier in 2020, but that was pulled due to circumstances beyond Apple's control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaks such as details buried inside iOS 14 also suggest a launch is happening soon.

The accessory is intended to help users find lost items, and is thought to resemble a small disc that can attach to objects, such as a keychain. Using the Find My app, users will be able to take advantage of the built-in U1 chip and ultra-wideband signals to find where the tag and connected item are located, in a similar manner to how a misplaced iPhone or iPad could be relocated.

Rumors have pointed to the use of an augmented reality-style interface, where users can view an icon on a real-time view of the room to see where the tag should be in physical space.

The system would also work out in the world without needing a cellular connection or GPS in the tag itself, by silently pinging iPhones with U1 chips passing nearby the tag without notifying the tag or iPhone owners. Secured with encryption, the pings would help determine the AirTag's location for the owner when they check the Find My app.
Caffiend
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    mobirdmobird Posts: 628member
    "Find My" app needs a different name.
    JaiOh81CaffiendRayz2016
  • Reply 2 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,828member
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives. For people who seriously need this capability, say a dairy farmer with 185 cows (Find My Cow), or a construction equipment rental company (Find My Chainsaw), there are already multiple solutions available. It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed. Sure, putting one on your car keys or your dog (Find My Doodledog) makes sense, but again, there are already solutions on the market that have not compelled me to buy any of them. This begs the question: What exactly does Apple bring to this party that we've all been missing, you know, that little something that only exists at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts? This is one current Apple rumor that elicits so little excitement from me, so I'm very ready to be surprised. C'mon Apple, let's see what you've got.
    randominternetpersonllama
  • Reply 3 of 21
    @dewme ;
    Unlike other solutions, AirTags supposedly would benefit from the virtual network of billions of idevices around the globe to exactly (YET privately) relocate your tagged items
    Caffiendlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 21
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 861member
    Yawn. Another day, another AirTags rumor. I went from being intrigued, to being excited, too convincing myself that I had to own these. Now, I’m mostly just bored by them. 
  • Reply 5 of 21
    WTHWTH Posts: 25member
    dewme said:
    It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed.
    Not if it is hidden in the vehicle.  People already use Tiles for this very purpose, but they don't work that well because there are relatively few people running the Tile app on their phones, so you rarely get a "hit" even if you're tracking the Tile in an urban area.

    The Airtag will be a Tile on steroids, pinging every iPhone within range through the "Find My" framework.  It'll be nearly as effective as a GPS tracker, but without subscription fees, cellular access, or a battery that needs recharging every two weeks.

    Once people get an idea what Airtags are capable of, I expect that they'll be hidden in just about any object that is worth protecting.  I further expect that the functionality of an Airtag will eventually be incorporated into the electronics of trucks, automobiles, motorcycles, etc.  Sure, you could rip out the electronics of a car and render it untrackable (and non-functional), but that isn't something that a car thief is going to do if he wants a working vehicle.  You can also expect a lot of companies to sell products to assist you in securely hiding an Airtag on / in a vehicle.  

    Where I live, we have an ongoing epidemic of gang members stealing cars, driving them while committing more crimes, then abandoning each vehicle for another stolen car.  Airtags are going to upend that cycle.  When your average car owner is able to immediately share the latest location update of his or her stolen vehicle with the police, it's going to be a whole lot tougher for the criminals to move around the city.

    I always assumed that Amazon would do this first, by tying in some sort of tracker with their Ring doorbell system.  But despite rumors of a Ring tracker, it has never happened.  Now Apple is going to dominate this market, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone.
    caladanianPositiveCaffiendlolliverAnilu_777kiehtanspock1234watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,755member
    dewme said:
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives. For people who seriously need this capability, say a dairy farmer with 185 cows (Find My Cow), or a construction equipment rental company (Find My Chainsaw), there are already multiple solutions available. It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed. Sure, putting one on your car keys or your dog (Find My Doodledog) makes sense, but again, there are already solutions on the market that have not compelled me to buy any of them. This begs the question: What exactly does Apple bring to this party that we've all been missing, you know, that little something that only exists at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts? This is one current Apple rumor that elicits so little excitement from me, so I'm very ready to be surprised. C'mon Apple, let's see what you've got.

    Assuming the product and service are well executed, I can see the following use cases. I'm sure there are more than I can think of.

    1. In vehicles, kind of like Lojack without all the superfluous features. Car is missing? Find it using this and tell the cops. The little tag could be hidden anywhere in the car. Would also be easier to track teen drivers and such.
    2. Luggage, of course. Whether it be missing at the airport or just the hotel storage room. Could be handy.
    3. Pets, as you mentioned. Would not help if the animal was stolen, but most missing pets are not stolen, so this should work fine.
    4. Other electronics such as work devices that might not be Apple.
    5. Hide one in a kid's back pack.
    6. Elderly wanderers. Could be attached to a bracelet/band or sewn into clothes. (waterproof?)

    I know there are individual products that address all of these already, but one solution that could cover many use cases and was seamlessly integrated into iOS and not multiple apps, would be compelling to many people. On the flip side, I am sure they could also be used for nefarious, privacy-invading purposes such as tracking people or unscrupulous private investigators etc.

    PositiveCaffiendlolliverAnilu_777spock1234watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 21
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,937member
    Good lord, if they announce iPhone 12, AppleWatch 6 and AirTags in one event, my wife is going to kill me — I’ve been waiting on all three!
    JaiOh81lolliverAnilu_777matrix077spock1234Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    Hopefully they will build the tech into all their devices, so they can be located when the device has gone flat or turned off. I presume they would work off the last few crumbs of battery power for a few days or weeks.

    My wife had her handbag and Apple Watch stolen a couple of months back, a local druggie and an open window. It would of been nice to have one in the bag. 
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,828member
    mike1 said:
    dewme said:
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives. For people who seriously need this capability, say a dairy farmer with 185 cows (Find My Cow), or a construction equipment rental company (Find My Chainsaw), there are already multiple solutions available. It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed. Sure, putting one on your car keys or your dog (Find My Doodledog) makes sense, but again, there are already solutions on the market that have not compelled me to buy any of them. This begs the question: What exactly does Apple bring to this party that we've all been missing, you know, that little something that only exists at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts? This is one current Apple rumor that elicits so little excitement from me, so I'm very ready to be surprised. C'mon Apple, let's see what you've got.

    Assuming the product and service are well executed, I can see the following use cases. I'm sure there are more than I can think of.

    1. In vehicles, kind of like Lojack without all the superfluous features. Car is missing? Find it using this and tell the cops. The little tag could be hidden anywhere in the car. Would also be easier to track teen drivers and such.
    2. Luggage, of course. Whether it be missing at the airport or just the hotel storage room. Could be handy.
    3. Pets, as you mentioned. Would not help if the animal was stolen, but most missing pets are not stolen, so this should work fine.
    4. Other electronics such as work devices that might not be Apple.
    5. Hide one in a kid's back pack.
    6. Elderly wanderers. Could be attached to a bracelet/band or sewn into clothes. (waterproof?)

    I know there are individual products that address all of these already, but one solution that could cover many use cases and was seamlessly integrated into iOS and not multiple apps, would be compelling to many people. On the flip side, I am sure they could also be used for nefarious, privacy-invading purposes such as tracking people or unscrupulous private investigators etc.

    Those are all interesting and reasonable use cases, but all of them can be addressed using existing tagging and tracking solutions that are already on the market. I started working with RFID based tracking applications way back in the mid-80s and I know that some of the application types I've worked on could similarly use AirTags as a lower cost option. But the real question that I'm floating is "What does Apple bring to this party?"

    Hey, maybe it's like BASF's old tagline "At BASF, we don't make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better." That's okay, and if it's better enough to move a lot of new folks towards using a capability that they otherwise would not have considered, better yet. Like I said, I'm eager to see what Apple does and how they make it unique within the scope of what Apple alone is capable of doing.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    dewme said:
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives. For people who seriously need this capability, say a dairy farmer with 185 cows (Find My Cow), or a construction equipment rental company (Find My Chainsaw), there are already multiple solutions available. It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed. Sure, putting one on your car keys or your dog (Find My Doodledog) makes sense, but again, there are already solutions on the market that have not compelled me to buy any of them. This begs the question: What exactly does Apple bring to this party that we've all been missing, you know, that little something that only exists at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts? This is one current Apple rumor that elicits so little excitement from me, so I'm very ready to be surprised. C'mon Apple, let's see what you've got.

  • Reply 11 of 21
    I read about these tracking devices and have been interested them.I was expectantly waiting for Apple Tags but gave up and forgot about them. A family member tried a Tile and was enthused. I was amused. I saw their usefulness.

    I was soon gifted a small Tile set by said family member as a birthday present. I was impressed and soon bought more. Now I have them in my jackets, brief case, backpack, key ring, wallet, and luggage.

    They come in different sizes with some smaller slimmer and less conspicuous and others larger and louder.

    The software is set up to remind me that I left an item behind and where it was last "seen."
    Also I can see my i-devices in the Tile App as well.
    I can see room for improvement.

    I know the police have used the Find My iPhone feature to aid in finding stolen iPhones. A friend had this happen. Whether PD will use Tile or Tags in finding things or stolen remains to be seen.

    What is really nice is seeing that missing keys or whatever are in a known location and either are already safe or a phone call away to a friend, associate or business to secure the item.

    Having invested in and learned in Tile EcoSystem, I'll be better able to assess the functionality of the Apple Tags if they are ever released and whether to transition to them is likely to be worth while.

    If the Apple Tag will be able to transparently and and securely use the vast network of iPhones would be amazing; but, I have to admit I'm skeptical; even more so if the devices catch on just based on the volume of things.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    I use Tiles for my car keys (the auto-start fob is worth $800), my house keys, purse, etc.  I don’t subscribe.  I’m interested to see how AirTags compare as one of my tile Pro’s has already run out of battery and is less than 6 months old.  How do AirTags charge and how long does the battery last?  Those will be important things in any purchase.  I don’t want to have to regularly charge them but if they’re wireless charging that would be a real plus and convenient.

    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    WTHWTH Posts: 25member
    Caffiend said:
    f the Apple Tag will be able to transparently and and securely use the vast network of iPhones would be amazing; but, I have to admit I'm skeptical; even more so if the devices catch on just based on the volume of things.

    I, too, own several Tiles.  They're useful, and I have one hidden in each of my cars, but I've learned their limitations.  There aren't enough people running the Tile app to make them very effective as an anti-theft device.  Case in point:  a few weeks back we had a Silver Alert on the local news where a man in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's got disoriented and lost on the way to a doctor's appointment.  Fortunately the family had the foresight to put a Tile in his car.  They got a ping from the Tile around 11 p.m. in the downtown area, more than thirty miles north of the doctor's office, and then nothing.  Then a day later they got a ping from a neighborhood in a small city 150 miles north of his home.  The police located him asleep in his car, and the family was able to bring him home safely.  The Tile probably saved his life, but he could have been found much sooner if the Tile network had better coverage.

    If the Airtag does no better than a Tile in terms of network coverage, then Apple is wasting their time bringing them to market.  That isn't a mistake Apple typically makes.  I'm betting that the Airtag will in fact leverage the "Find My" network very effectively, so that every iPhone, iPad, and MacBook will add to the coverage.  Assuming the Airtag fits into Apple's long-term strategy for augmented reality, then we may see some real "gee whiz" demonstrations of their capabilities.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21

    Caffiend said: 

    “I read about these tracking devices and have been interested them.I was expectantly waiting for Apple Tags but gave up and forgot about them. A family member tried a Tile and was enthused. I was amused. I saw their usefulness.

    I was soon gifted a small Tile set by said family member as a birthday present. I was impressed and soon bought more. Now I have them in my jackets, brief case, backpack, key ring, wallet, and luggage.

    They come in different sizes with some smaller slimmer and less conspicuous and others larger and louder.

    The software is set up to remind me that I left an item behind and where it was last "seen."
    Also I can see my i-devices in the Tile App as well.
    I can see room for improvement.

    I know the police have used the Find My iPhone feature to aid in finding stolen iPhones. A friend had this happen. Whether PD will use Tile or Tags in finding things or stolen remains to be seen.

    What is really nice is seeing that missing keys or whatever are in a known location and either are already safe or a phone call away to a friend, associate or business to secure the item.

    Having invested in and learned in Tile EcoSystem, I'll be better able to assess the functionality of the Apple Tags if they are ever released and whether to transition to them is likely to be worth while.

    If the Apple Tag will be able to transparently and and securely use the vast network of iPhones would be amazing; but, I have to admit I'm skeptical; even more so if the devices catch on just based on the volume of things. “

    I’ve used Tiles on and off since the originals. However, the app has gotten so bogged down and of course they have move to a subscription based model which I really don’t like. 


  • Reply 15 of 21
    fred1fred1 Posts: 834member
    I’d love to be able to use one of these to see if my checked suitcase arrived with me. There are devices that do this, but they’re expensive to buy and usually require a subscription. Does anyone know if AirTags could be used for this? Can the Tile?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    dewme said:
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives.
    For me it's simple… It fits into all the things I carry with me, and that has been stolen if it moves away from me; and it fits into everything that has been forgotten if I move away from it (outside of safe zones, like home, office, etc).

    Then it becomes a question of value, compared with the price of the tag, as well as the potential hassle of keeping it charged.

    So this would definitely go into my regularly used bags, some computer cases/protection, maybe a jacket; and definitely on my keychain. In total maybe just five tags, at most.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Great idea these tracking mechanisms, but I can’t help but get all James Bond-ish about it... if this tag produces a signal, then it can be tracked by anybody. I don’t see how this stops a thief... eventually hackers will make a device that can search for signals on the same frequency and then know right where the tracking tag is and pull it, and throw it in the river.

     I’m not a pessimist, just being realistic here... not sure how these items protect anyone from having anything of value from being stolen. 

    For now, i know how much i hate wearing my phone when i go out for a run, so i can see myself wearing one of these tags so if i don’t make it home, someone could actually come looking for me and find me.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 21
    dewme said:
    mike1 said:
    dewme said:
    I'm very curious to see where Apple sees this product fitting into its customer's lives. For people who seriously need this capability, say a dairy farmer with 185 cows (Find My Cow), or a construction equipment rental company (Find My Chainsaw), there are already multiple solutions available. It's obviously not intended for security or theft protection because the tag could be easily removed. Sure, putting one on your car keys or your dog (Find My Doodledog) makes sense, but again, there are already solutions on the market that have not compelled me to buy any of them. This begs the question: What exactly does Apple bring to this party that we've all been missing, you know, that little something that only exists at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts? This is one current Apple rumor that elicits so little excitement from me, so I'm very ready to be surprised. C'mon Apple, let's see what you've got.

    Assuming the product and service are well executed, I can see the following use cases. I'm sure there are more than I can think of.

    1. In vehicles, kind of like Lojack without all the superfluous features. Car is missing? Find it using this and tell the cops. The little tag could be hidden anywhere in the car. Would also be easier to track teen drivers and such.
    2. Luggage, of course. Whether it be missing at the airport or just the hotel storage room. Could be handy.
    3. Pets, as you mentioned. Would not help if the animal was stolen, but most missing pets are not stolen, so this should work fine.
    4. Other electronics such as work devices that might not be Apple.
    5. Hide one in a kid's back pack.
    6. Elderly wanderers. Could be attached to a bracelet/band or sewn into clothes. (waterproof?)

    I know there are individual products that address all of these already, but one solution that could cover many use cases and was seamlessly integrated into iOS and not multiple apps, would be compelling to many people. On the flip side, I am sure they could also be used for nefarious, privacy-invading purposes such as tracking people or unscrupulous private investigators etc.

    Those are all interesting and reasonable use cases, but all of them can be addressed using existing tagging and tracking solutions that are already on the market. I started working with RFID based tracking applications way back in the mid-80s and I know that some of the application types I've worked on could similarly use AirTags as a lower cost option. But the real question that I'm floating is "What does Apple bring to this party?"

    Hey, maybe it's like BASF's old tagline "At BASF, we don't make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better." That's okay, and if it's better enough to move a lot of new folks towards using a capability that they otherwise would not have considered, better yet. Like I said, I'm eager to see what Apple does and how they make it unique within the scope of what Apple alone is capable of doing.


    The answer is easy.  It's two parts.  First, people trust Apple stuff more then they trust (or even hear about) some product from a niche company.  There are millions of cool things on Amazon that are cheap with excellent reviews that are complete garbage.  On the other hand if Apple offers a product people trust that it will do what it says and will give it a chance.  Second, it's the iOS/Apple ecosystem.  I'm already wearing my Apple Watch and carrying my iPhone, so I would consider a Air Tag to be just one thing I could easily adopt.  If a third-party offers this (which I'm sure they do, but see point 1) I have to adopt two things: the tag plus whatever device or app they want me to use.  Third party apps often suck and won't be as well integrated into iOS as this will be.

    I expect/hope that Apple embeds this tech into the AirPod case.  First, because I need it, but second because it will be a great demo for everyone about how useful this can be.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,828member
    Great feedback! It sounds like Apple has an opportunity to transform what others have tried with some limited success into something with mass appeal. This follows a pattern we’ve seen with iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Looking forward to seeing Apple’s solution in action. 
    randominternetpersonmike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,202member
    Great idea these tracking mechanisms, but I can’t help but get all James Bond-ish about it... if this tag produces a signal, then it can be tracked by anybody. I don’t see how this stops a thief... eventually hackers will make a device that can search for signals on the same frequency and then know right where the tracking tag is and pull it, and throw it in the river.

     I’m not a pessimist, just being realistic here... not sure how these items protect anyone from having anything of value from being stolen. 

    For now, i know how much i hate wearing my phone when i go out for a run, so i can see myself wearing one of these tags so if i don’t make it home, someone could actually come looking for me and find me.
    It's the same reason hiding valuables and locking your car is effective. Yes, a motivated and/or sophisticated thief can defeat car locks or break the window. Most are either not that ambitious or not that sophisticated. They'll try the door handle and move on if it's locked. They'll break a window to steal a purse off the seat, but they won't risk getting caught breaking a window just to see if there's something valuable in the glove box.

    When fingerprint readers and FAceID were introduced there were lots of scenarios suggested for lifting fingerprints, or making 3D masks, or even cutting off someone's finger to defeat those security measures. The reality is that none of that is worth the risk or effort in all but the weirdest of cases.

    It's not about making theft impossible; it's about making it less likely to succeed.
    watto_cobra
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