Nearly a decade ago, I made the decision to “cut first aid” out of the Apple ecosystem. Goodbye iPhone, hello Google Pixel. It was pretty much all great, but recently an Apple feature has made me itchy for some Apple OS. It’s AirTags, which is now great thanks to a really cool product management.
As a travel blogger and tech savvy, I can’t help but follow travel-related developments closely. For years, I’ve been seeing people who care about things like Tile and AirTags, but I’ve never felt compelled to pay for them.
The main drawback for me has always been the very limited range of tracking. I wasn’t too worried about losing something in my house, or within 200 feet of me, but I was worried about what would happen if I lost my bag in transit or outside. Yikes.
When Apple launched Nearby Search, which essentially helps locate AirTags globally by creating a radar signal for any nearby Apple devices to pick up, anywhere in the world, everything changed.
Selecting the Apple Air Tag feature
With Apple Air cards, I can lose my bag anywhere in the world and still find it, as long as someone with an Apple device comes close. Air Tag anonymously sends static beeps and will help any iPhone in range find the exact location.
This is not the case with Tile or alternatives to Samsung. With these two products, if the bag gets out of 420 feet, you lose tracking. If an airline forgets to upload it, you’ll only have the last known site. She can’t tell you if she arrived later on a late flight or if she really got lost.
It never really registered to me how important it was, until I saw it in action. I continued lazily until I was tagged in a tweet on Twitter. A GSTP reader and blogger was on his own, with the handle AviosAdventurer showing the airline where his bag was.
The blogger put together one of the most amazing “Masters” level demos of the airline that lost his bag, about where to find the bag. Sharing a simple LOOM screen and a video of a selfie mode working in tandem, the flight blogger showed off recent tracking data from AirTags, and some individual motions.
The rest is crazy.
Blogger fights crime using air tags
The airline could not find his bag, but he did find his bag. The airline insisted that someone tried to deliver, and they proved they didn’t. Further, he instructed the airline about where to find it, pick it up and bring it to him. It is really worth watching.
As things progressed, AirTags proved invaluable. A bad actor along the way lifted the bags, and air cards were able to locate a storage location where the apparent criminals were hiding customers in lost bags.
I think updates stopped flowing once it became an official police matter, but I may or may not have seen an excerpt from the end result.
Apple Air and Android tags
Twitter asked for my comments on my Air Tag thoughts. Heard of Tile, can it compete? Was there a way to use Air Tags with Android devices? The answer to the first question is at the moment no. The answer to the second question is kind of.
There are workarounds via third-party apps and things like that, or you can create an iCloud account and get access to tracking. I still use my MacBook for work, and it never occurred to me that it’s a perfectly adequate AirTag tracking hub.
For people who already use Apple systems, this really is a stroke of genius. With all the operational failures, understaffing and theft in the world today, putting air cards in the bag can be a game changer. It has been proven to be.
You can determine the exact location of your baggage at any time with much more accuracy than an airline or hotel. With the rise in hotel bag theft, these signs can make police reports and returned items a breeze.
I just ordered a few of my travel gear. I hope it never proves useful, but at the price point (4) for $99, it appears to be a really worthwhile investment in the happiness of travel.