Some people never lose anything. If you never, ever misplace anything—your keys, wallet, car, luggage, or anything else—you can safely skip today’s column. But, if you are like most people (including yours truly), Apple recently introduced an easy way to keep track of almost any object and find it quickly and easily when you misplace it.
Apple’s AirTags are the easiest and most effective way I’ve found to keep track of stuff. Just attach an AirTag to anything you’re likely to misplace—your keys, wallet, backpack, headphones, fanny pack, etc.—and when it goes missing, the AirTag helps you find it in several ways.
Find Lost Items with AirTags
The first way is to display the item’s last known location in the Find My app on your iPhone or other iDevice running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later. It works like radar and shows you where the item was last “seen” on a map. And, if your iPhone has Ultra-Wideband (i.e., iPhone 11 or later), Precision Finding kicks in when you get close to the item and shows you an arrow pointing in the direction of the lost item along with how far (or close) you are.
Furthermore, when the item is in the same general vicinity as you and your iPhone, you can use the Find My app to play a sound on the AirTag’s built-in speaker so that you can follow the sound to your item. This works great when the lost item is nearby but not easily visible, like when my keys fell behind the couch.
Or, if the item is truly lost, you can enable Lost Mode on the AirTag (in the Find My app), and you’ll receive a notification the next time another device detects the AirTag. You can also configure an AirTag so that tapping it with any NFC-capable smartphone displays a message with your contact information.
If you think AirTags might have nefarious uses, they’re designed to discourage unwanted tracking, and your iPhone alerts you whenever someone else’s AirTag is traveling with you.
AirTags are water-resistant and run for a year or more before your iPhone alerts you to replace the battery. And, if you order online from Apple or in a brick-and-mortar Apple Store, they include free laser engraving.
Apple’s Crazy-Expensive Accessories
At $29 each or $99 for a four-pack, AirTags are reasonably priced and work better than other similar devices (such as Tile or Pixie) I’ve tried. My only quibble is that Apple’s accessories are crazy expensive, starting at $29 for a polyurethane loop AirTag holder to a Hermés Bag Charm that goes for a whopping $299.
If that irks you, I found “I.D. tag accessory silencers” for about $2 each at my local pet supply store. They’re little rubber circles designed to keep your pet’s I.D. tags from clanking, but they’re perfect for hanging an AirTag from almost anything at a fraction of the cost of Apple’s accessories.
Finally, Amazon.com has a metric crap-ton of options at reasonable prices (search for “AirTag holders”).