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Apple releases AirTag location-tracking accessory, directly competing with Samsung’s SmartTag+.

Last week we covered the release of Samsung’s SmartTag+, a Bluetooth and UWB-powered tracking tag, filling a similar niche as the popular Tile tags. These products help users track bags, keys, and other items that may get lost on a day-to-day basis. Well, today, industry-titan Apple is getting into the mix, and they bring their behemoth Apple iPhone network to the table to make tracking more powerful.

Powered by Apple’s own U1 chip, Apple’s latest accessory can be thrown in bags or attached to every items like keys (with the addition of an optional lanyard accessory, of course), and can later be tracked through Apple’s “Find My” ecosystem.

The AirTags are also P67 water- and dust-resistant, and perhaps most shockingly, feature a replaceable battery (a standard watch battery). Apple says the battery should last one year under normal usage. If the lost item is within bluetooth range, the app will help you locate the AirTag via bluetooth (and optional audible chirps).

Where Apple perhaps has a stronger advantage over competitors, users can locate their missing items through Apple’s “Find My” network if the AirTag is out of Bluetooth range. This means that the location can be pinged to the owner, using the global network of active iPhones. And, well, there are a lot of iPhones out there, so this system will likely be much more effective than similar feature from Tile, for example.

In terms of tech, AirTags are packing NFC, Bluetooth LE, and an accelerometer. They come with built-in Siri support and an accessibility feature for those with low vision. Apple claims that the AirTag doesn’t physically store data, and all communication to the network is end-to-end encrypted. It also works with Android phones, though iPhone users will have the most robust experience.

Apple’s AirTags are now on sale globally, priced at $29 (or $99 for a 4-pack) in the USA.

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