Apple warns against AirTag replacement batteries with bitter coatings

Posted:
in General Discussion
While it may be some time before users are due to replace the button cell battery in their AirTag, Apple has issued a warning against buying products with bitterant coatings as they might not work with the device.

AirTag


According to an Apple support document regarding AirTag battery replacement, users should avoid purchasing batteries with bitterant coatings.

"CR2032 batteries with bitterant coatings might not work with AirTag or other battery-powered products, depending on the alignment of the coating in relation to the battery contacts," Apple says in the document, as spotted by The Loop.

The special treatment is used by some battery makers to prevent children from swallowing the small power sources. Bitterants are non-toxic chemicals that smell or taste bitter and are commonly used to discourage ingestion or inhalation of potentially dangerous products. Chemicals used by battery makers react with saliva to create an unpleasant taste.

Apple published the support page days after Australia issued a consumer advisory urging parents to keep AirTag away from children because its easily accessible battery is a choking hazard.

In the warning, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission cited the ease at which AirTag can be opened, revealing the small CR2032 battery. To open AirTag, users simply press down on the stainless steel battery cover, twist counterclockwise until it stops rotating and lift it off.

The ACCC also said closing an AirTag's chassis does not always ensure that the battery compartment is secure. Apple's tracking device plays a tone when its cover makes contact with the battery, but that does not necessarily mean the device is locked, the body said.

At least one Australian retailer pulled the product from its shelves citing the same concerns outlined by the ACCC.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    “Pull the product from its shelves”, smh.

    We need products to be serviceable by us is what I heard everyone was screaming and when a manufacturer make them such then some site concerns. 

    I say, for concerned consumers, apple should drill a hole and put a fugly Philips screw at the back or just super glue it for them. Those people don’t deserve easy replaceable parts. 
    lkrupptwokatmew
  • Reply 2 of 20
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 307member
    So if I lick the coating off, will that make them work?
    llamadarkvader
  • Reply 3 of 20
    Here we go again paying the price for irresponsible people.  That’s why we have all those labels, kill and safety switches all over our lawnmowers, washing machines and everything else.  It’s now found it’s way to our AirTags.
    lkruppcaladaniantwokatmewllama
  • Reply 4 of 20
    fred1fred1 Posts: 828member
    So you can’t use them in your AirTags and you can’t feed them to kids. What are they good for??

    But seriously, how do you know which ones have this coating (apart from licking them!)?
    caladaniantwokatmewGeorgeBMacdarkvader
  • Reply 5 of 20
    OctoMonkeyOctoMonkey Posts: 208member
    bonobob said:
    So if I lick the coating off, will that make them work?
    I think it would be best to treat the battery like a throat lozenge and give it 15 minutes or so.  If you choose to pursue the licking route, Mr. Owl recommends three licks.
    https://d14e8oeg5e788p.cloudfront.net/content/79084/41bbcc13df3970ec6f3eb8a0e27f2ee1.jpg
    llamaGeorgeBMacbonobobrandominternetpersonMplsPdarkvader
  • Reply 6 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,717member
    columbia said:
    Here we go again paying the price for irresponsible people.  That’s why we have all those labels, kill and safety switches all over our lawnmowers, washing machines and everything else.  It’s now found it’s way to our AirTags.
    It very specifically hasn't found its way to AirTags, because you can't use the bitterant batteries with AirTags, according to Apple.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    OctoMonkeyOctoMonkey Posts: 208member
    I would question why the coating makes the batteries (potentially) fail in the AirTag.  I can understand if a device was manufactured prior to the use of these coatings, but any newer design should account for the potential presence of the bitterant.  What happens if ALL battery manufacturers decide to (or are mandated to) use these coatings?

    People really need to pay attention to what their kids have access to.
    darkvader
  • Reply 8 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    I would question why the coating makes the batteries (potentially) fail in the AirTag.  I can understand if a device was manufactured prior to the use of these coatings, but any newer design should account for the potential presence of the bitterant.  What happens if ALL battery manufacturers decide to (or are mandated to) use these coatings?

    People really need to pay attention to what their kids have access to.

    I would suspect that it interferes with the electrical contact in some way.
    Which raises the question of if it can be removed -- some (above) have proposed the "3 licks" method. But that has yet to be scientifically proven to be safe & effective.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    tmonline said:
    “Pull the product from its shelves”, smh.

    We need products to be serviceable by us is what I heard everyone was screaming and when a manufacturer make them such then some site concerns. 

    I say, for concerned consumers, apple should drill a hole and put a fugly Philips screw at the back or just super glue it for them. Those people don’t deserve easy replaceable parts. 
    Uh, a majority of people still want serviceable products. Were you expecting 100% of the population to be on the same page?
    williamlondondarkvader
  • Reply 10 of 20
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    I usually wipe down new coin batteries, battery contacts, card edge connectors, etc., with 91% isopropyl alcohol to remove oily residue from handling. I have one of those push down alcohol dispensers from my days as an electronics technician. Use it all the time. I'd imagine that a thorough cleaning with alcohol would strip off any bitter coating. A quick post cleaning taste test would probably confirm.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    I would question why the coating makes the batteries (potentially) fail in the AirTag.  I can understand if a device was manufactured prior to the use of these coatings, but any newer design should account for the potential presence of the bitterant.  What happens if ALL battery manufacturers decide to (or are mandated to) use these coatings?

    People really need to pay attention to what their kids have access to.

    Any coating will add a bit of electrical resistance (and capacitance which we don't care about in this case) in the same manner that metallic oxidation does. It will degrade performance and battery life. The impact will be more pronounced at very low current levels, which is the case with the always-on AirTags.

    If coated coin batteries become a universal requirement I'd bet that makers of coin battery holders will compensate by designing their holders to apply more tension and contact pressure on the battery contact points.

    It's very common that adding safety features to products involves compromises. Picking the right balance between multiple competing concerns is the essence of product engineering, and engineering in general.
    edited July 29
  • Reply 12 of 20
    crowley said:
    columbia said:
    Here we go again paying the price for irresponsible people.  That’s why we have all those labels, kill and safety switches all over our lawnmowers, washing machines and everything else.  It’s now found it’s way to our AirTags.
    It very specifically hasn't found its way to AirTags, because you can't use the bitterant batteries with AirTags, according to Apple.
    You don't get it.  Some retailers in Australia have pulled AirTags from their shelves because of fear of the regulators.  This is the "price" columbia is referring to.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,717member
    crowley said:
    columbia said:
    Here we go again paying the price for irresponsible people.  That’s why we have all those labels, kill and safety switches all over our lawnmowers, washing machines and everything else.  It’s now found it’s way to our AirTags.
    It very specifically hasn't found its way to AirTags, because you can't use the bitterant batteries with AirTags, according to Apple.
    You don't get it.  Some retailers in Australia have pulled AirTags from their shelves because of fear of the regulators.  This is the "price" columbia is referring to.
    The article says they pulled AirTags from the shelves because they shared the concerns of the regulators.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 240member
    crowley said:
    columbia said:
    Here we go again paying the price for irresponsible people.  That’s why we have all those labels, kill and safety switches all over our lawnmowers, washing machines and everything else.  It’s now found it’s way to our AirTags.
    It very specifically hasn't found its way to AirTags, because you can't use the bitterant batteries with AirTags, according to Apple.
    You don't get it.  Some retailers in Australia have pulled AirTags from their shelves because of fear of the regulators.  This is the "price" columbia is referring to.
    Well, it seems the fears are well founded - it _is_ easy to open the battery compartment, and the tag is specifically made to be fastened to bags and other stuff that are laying around. Considering how similar products are usually designed, this just seems like a stupid oversight from Apples side. I guess there will be a quick rev 2.0. No big deal, just hope no one is getting hurt in the meantime.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 20
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 589member
    tmonline said:
    “Pull the product from its shelves”, smh.

    We need products to be serviceable by us is what I heard everyone was screaming and when a manufacturer make them such then some site concerns. 

    I say, for concerned consumers, apple should drill a hole and put a fugly Philips screw at the back or just super glue it for them. Those people don’t deserve easy replaceable parts. 

    A Philips screw seems like a very reasonable solution.  Who cares if it's "fugly" if it makes the product safer (and in the process makes it less likely that the battery will fall out)?


    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 20
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    IreneW said:
    this just seems like a stupid oversight from Apples side. I guess there will be a quick rev 2.0. No big deal, just hope no one is getting hurt in the meantime.
    Not a stupid oversight on Apple's part. A stupid overreaction on Oz's part. No rev 2 with a screw or glue. Just use common sense (an oxymoron for some people) and keep small choking hazards away from children.

    Warning: AirTag, the battery cover, and the battery might present a choking hazard or cause other injury to small children. Keep these items away from small children.


    fred1 said:
    So you can’t use them in your AirTags and you can’t feed them to kids. What are they good for??
    crowley said:
    It very specifically hasn't found its way to AirTags, because you can't use the bitterant batteries with AirTags, according to Apple.
    You guys really need to pay more attention to what you read.

    CR2032 batteries with bitterant coatings might not work with AirTag or other battery-powered products, depending on the alignment of the coating in relation to the battery contacts.

    A quick wipe with something like a wet paper towel (and drying, for the pedants) will very likely make the battery serviceable, if it poses a problem in the first place. You could probably just pop the back off and spin the cell in the AirTag and scrape enough coating to make it work if you're the quick and dirty type, if it's even a problem in the first place.

    I'm wondering how to know if the battery is coated with a bitterant, in the first place. Maybe it would be mentioned on the package as a selling point.

    A lot of CR2032s and CR2025s pass through my place as I have a lot of remotes and clocks that use them, and I haven't seen a mention of 'bitterant inside'.

    I imagine Apple is being proactive about the possible battery issue, same with their Apple Card, same with some scuffing issue that never became an issue, but I haven't seen any other mention of a bitterant issue with any other device.

    Some people wet themselves waiting for the chance to say Apple screwed up.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 20
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    fred1 said:
    So you can’t use them in your AirTags and you can’t feed them to kids. What are they good for??

    But seriously, how do you know which ones have this coating (apart from licking them!)?
    Actually, in review that was pretty funny and was posted in that context. So, sorry about that, Chief.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 240member
    macgui said:
    IreneW said:
    this just seems like a stupid oversight from Apples side. I guess there will be a quick rev 2.0. No big deal, just hope no one is getting hurt in the meantime.
    Not a stupid oversight on Apple's part. A stupid overreaction on Oz's part. No rev 2 with a screw or glue. Just use common sense (an oxymoron for some people) and keep small choking hazards away from children.

    Warning: AirTag, the battery cover, and the battery might present a choking hazard or cause other injury to small children. Keep these items away from small children.

    You _really_ don't get it, do you? The tag is specifically made to be attached to bags and other stuff that are routinely placed on the floor, on chairs and by the bedside where small children can easily reach them. Or on cats and dogs - shouldn't the children be allowed to come near the kittens?
    Companies, including Apple, need to follow some good design rules - not necessarily because you might be sued otherwise (which, I admit, is a stupid practice, but almost exclusively relevant in USA), but because it makes sense to reduce the risks of accidents. This exact problem has been solved in thousands of products by a tiny screw. I bet Apple will find a more elegant solution, but if they can't just add the damn screw.
    Why make such a fuss about Apple [email protected] up this?
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 20
    IreneW said:
    macgui said:
    IreneW said:
    this just seems like a stupid oversight from Apples side. I guess there will be a quick rev 2.0. No big deal, just hope no one is getting hurt in the meantime.
    Not a stupid oversight on Apple's part. A stupid overreaction on Oz's part. No rev 2 with a screw or glue. Just use common sense (an oxymoron for some people) and keep small choking hazards away from children.

    Warning: AirTag, the battery cover, and the battery might present a choking hazard or cause other injury to small children. Keep these items away from small children.

    You _really_ don't get it, do you? The tag is specifically made to be attached to bags and other stuff that are routinely placed on the floor, on chairs and by the bedside where small children can easily reach them. Or on cats and dogs - shouldn't the children be allowed to come near the kittens?
    Companies, including Apple, need to follow some good design rules - not necessarily because you might be sued otherwise (which, I admit, is a stupid practice, but almost exclusively relevant in USA), but because it makes sense to reduce the risks of accidents. This exact problem has been solved in thousands of products by a tiny screw. I bet Apple will find a more elegant solution, but if they can't just add the damn screw.
    Why make such a fuss about Apple [email protected] up this?
    Out of curiosity why aren’t you blaming the parents on this? I made it perfectly fine through childhood. You know why? My parents paid attention. Our daughter grew up just fine. How is that, the government must protect us? No no government intervention needed. We took care not to lay small things down. It really is a simple concept. If you can’t watch children because you are self absorbed in your device, maybe don’t have children. Birth control or chemical castration are great. If you think if Apple put a d*** screw in it and it is ugly as all get out, how many people would cry about Apples elegant aesthetics being dragged down. A lot. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 20
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 240member
    IreneW said:
    macgui said:
    IreneW said:
    this just seems like a stupid oversight from Apples side. I guess there will be a quick rev 2.0. No big deal, just hope no one is getting hurt in the meantime.
    Not a stupid oversight on Apple's part. A stupid overreaction on Oz's part. No rev 2 with a screw or glue. Just use common sense (an oxymoron for some people) and keep small choking hazards away from children.

    Warning: AirTag, the battery cover, and the battery might present a choking hazard or cause other injury to small children. Keep these items away from small children.

    You _really_ don't get it, do you? The tag is specifically made to be attached to bags and other stuff that are routinely placed on the floor, on chairs and by the bedside where small children can easily reach them. Or on cats and dogs - shouldn't the children be allowed to come near the kittens?
    Companies, including Apple, need to follow some good design rules - not necessarily because you might be sued otherwise (which, I admit, is a stupid practice, but almost exclusively relevant in USA), but because it makes sense to reduce the risks of accidents. This exact problem has been solved in thousands of products by a tiny screw. I bet Apple will find a more elegant solution, but if they can't just add the damn screw.
    Why make such a fuss about Apple [email protected] up this?
    Out of curiosity why aren’t you blaming the parents on this? I made it perfectly fine through childhood. You know why? My parents paid attention. Our daughter grew up just fine. How is that, the government must protect us? No no government intervention needed. We took care not to lay small things down. It really is a simple concept. If you can’t watch children because you are self absorbed in your device, maybe don’t have children. Birth control or chemical castration are great. If you think if Apple put a d*** screw in it and it is ugly as all get out, how many people would cry about Apples elegant aesthetics being dragged down. A lot. 
    So, what you are saying (because you apparently didn't read my post) is that you cannot leave a suitcase with an airtag attached on the floor? And you cannot let the kids play with your kittens?
    And that is just because you think a small screw (or some other, more elegant, solution) is a governmental abuse of power?
    muthuk_vanalingam
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