That's the piece of information I wanted to know first. Devices like this can be built, but those can't run on batteries for a reasonable time frame.
Apple made it practical.
I'm curious if it would've been technically feasible to have wireless charging on these instead of replaceable battery. Or would that greatly increase the price?
I had a tile and it most assuredly did not have a replacable battery, I had to mill the thing open: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrhM5ujSU6w
Hopefully AirTag opens up their API so Tile can integrate. I’m just assuming AirTag would be slightly more integrated than Tile.
> Conspicuously absent from the list [of third-party products using the Find My network], of course, is Tile. Given their membership in Epic’s Coalition for App Fairness, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Apple to promote Tile’s products. And it’s unclear to me whether Tile even wants to be in the Find My app — their spat with Apple is more about their own app competing with Find My, and their accusations that Apple unfairly advantages Find My by not holding it to the same rules as third-party apps that ask for always-on location access. Apple’s solution is this third-party accessory program; Tile’s preferred solution would be Apple allowing Tile’s own app to do everything Find My can do.
More likely because CR batteries don't drop voltage significantly as it discharges. And at full discharge it suddenly drops dead. Which is why it's harder to measure "remaining charge", as that's generally calculated on battery voltage.
> Battery life based on an everyday use of four play sound events and one Precision Finding event per day.
That seems like exceptionally heavy usage to me.
low-cost & low-power & high accuracy, not so much
Now most devices use direct voltage, coloumb counting and battery impedance to keep track, and that’s with known batteries.
For a CR2032 specifically, you get a nice smooth drop over at least the last third to quarter of its charge. There's no difficulty in detecting that.
My battery is 80% charged, and then I go outside where it is 10 degC colder. Suddenly my battery voltage drops by 200mV and my battery looks 20% charged
My battery is 80% charged and then I start playing a video. The increased load drops the battery voltage and suddenly my battery looks 20% charged.
Lithium rechargeable would mean higher price, larger size for equivalent specs, with an added risk of fire!
Anything with non-chargeable batteries is a no go from sustainability perspective
Recall that everything is made out of rearranged earth atoms. So long as you put them back properly, it can be sustainable.
This means that, depending on the circuitry they are not always drop in compatible since the voltages and discharge curves differ
I feel like this gives far too much credit to Apple. Any one company can "think differently" but Apple shouldn't get the blame for all of the other companies following suit.
Remember the ads Samsung ran before axing the headphone jack a year later?
Apple had (and still have) the status and prestige to do anything and make that a standard. If Huawei/Samsung/etc didn't include chargers, didn't use USB or USB C, changed from 3.5 to some proprietary audio jack first, they would have been ridiculed.
But once Apple changed these things (except luckily the USB), these companies could point out that "Apple does this, so it must be an acceptable idea".
The most annoying thing about this is that they are trying to spin these changes as innovation or something for the environment.
The simple reason is that Apple is the only manufacturer in a specific market. The market for MacOS (or in the case of iDevices, iOS) users.
What that means is that Apple can introduce a pretty shitty change and not lose too many customers to other manufacturers because switching from Apple to another manufacturer is much harder than from Dell to HP.
So, for example, if Dell were to introduce those shitty butterfly keyboards, that were nearly unusable and got spoilt so easily, they would have to change back to their old keyboards within months, unlike Apple, which managed to stick to that design for years and generations of devices without suffering too much.
I use that example because it was an unambiguously worse option, so it nicely illustrates how Apple has a lock-in that others don’t. But Apple can use that lock in to then introduce what are potentially more useful changes (USB2) and/or changes that are not fully baked yet (USB-C), and not suffer the consequences other manufacturers would.
If they make the wrong call, they’ll handle it. Or they won’t and you’ll get burned a little bit.
When Apple makes an obvious error, like with the keyboard, or something external is holding back the quality of the product (recent pre-Apple silicon laptops) you do have to sort of pay attention and if possible steer around the problem.
As an example I largely sidelined the weak 2018 MacBook Air and instead invested in maxing out a Mac Mini. That turned out really well for me.
Sometimes, like with the butterfly keyboard, it feels like Apple does not take enough responsibility for screw ups and take greater measures to make customers whole.
This happened recently for me with the iPhone 12 Magsafe Silicon case, which is a good product but flawed in the context of the iPhone upgrade program.
In that way, I think Apple could and should be much more generous about returning value to its customers instead of to shareholders.
If there were any existential threat to Apple, I’d say it’s the need to reward shareholders instead of customers.
Speak for yourself. The butterfly keyboard is the only laptop keyboard I have ever encountered which I can type on for a full day without flaring RSI. Despite having a fully-loaded 16" with the replacement keyboard, I still use the 4.5-year-old butterfly model for almost everything.
I totally get this interpretation, but I genuinely cannot work out how to tell the difference between this explanation and the alternative explanation that this actually just is what the smartphone market prefers and when given the choice they will choose it.
That would also explain why essentially all competitors copy the change one product cycle after the first company makes the change. Unless you’re suggesting that Apple’s competitors are actually colluding with Apple to remove the headphone jack despite strong market opposition, I really don’t see how you can definitively say that Apple and its competitors aren’t simply making products that most people prefer.
A bunch of android phones had wireless charging years ago, including one of the nexus devices IIRC. Great! I'll buy a couple of wireless charging pucks and use them. No more flakey USB ports that give up before the phone does.
Apple didn't pick it up.
Android phones all dropped the feature.
Apple picked it up, hyped it, rolled it out.
Android phones started appearing with it again.
It's like Apple has to lead the way, and even useful features can't survive in the android ecosystem without Apple's blessing.
The motorola Nexus 6 had Qi charging in 2014, then that manufacturer seemed to back away from it. Huawei only picked the feature up in 2019 AFAICT, my P20 pro didn't have it.
But yes, it does look like the galaxy phones have had it all along. I wonder why I discounted those?
And when Apple did this, they were able to pack more wattage on their MacBooks, making them last substantially longer on a charge than competitors. Competitors had to do same to eventually catch up.
Friends and jumping off bridges and all that.
I get that Apple has immense sway in these marketplaces but I've never gotten a good explanation for why it's Apple's fault when another company makes that same anti-consumer decision. Headphone jacks being the most prominent example.
And not even all the things I listed really annoy me, I have listed examples for things where Apple had to be the first from the established manufacturers. For example the audio jack, I basically never used wired headphones in the last 6 (?) years (since the first time I bought Beats with Bluetooth), so I don't even care.
Well sure nothing “could have happened” without the first company doing it and then the rest of the companies also doing it. But you can’t blame just Apple for an industry wide change. Sure they where the first major company to push a single button mouse, but you can’t blame them for there being no two or three button mice on the market today. That’s not something they made happen, that was an entire industry adopting their practice, and the consumers backing that decision.
They solved the waterproof phone with a headphone jack many years ago, went with with the craziness of removing it for no reason reason like Samsung and apple, and have since put it back in all of their phones as there hasn't been any noticable improvement in phones that have removed it, but now you have to make sure your headphones are charged.
It's not about blame - Apple has repeatedly changed the landscape of computing for decades. Mac, modern laptops, iPhone. Downplay their influence if you will, but they have been the harbinger so often before...
Apple was the first to put a trackball in a laptop (though that laptop was, in the rest of its design, at least five years out of date – hardly modern), invented the laptop palm rest, and – much later – was the first to put an Ethernet port in.
I really like the look of this over the tile products personally and it’s “rightly sized” to me. I definitely will see myself owning a few of these air tags
Newer ones, I don't know. It does look like Apple is starting to move in truth toward the hostility to DIY repair they've always been claimed, in the past often falsely, to display.
It's a shame. I really like the idea of that purple 12 mini - it'd go so well with my fountain pen! But if I can't fix it myself when it needs fixing, that's a much knottier problem.
I suppose if you can't lift 80lbs out of an awkward spot, it's also not user replaceable? The line has to be drawn somewhere.
I guess it depends on what you think of as innovation. Their marketing pointed to "scalloped" batteries instead of square so they can take up more empty space (plus the space that would have been used by covering the battery and a fatter connector).
In my experience, their batteries went from 200 charge cycles, about ~4 of battery life, and often failing before reaching it's end of life to 1000 charge cycles, about 8-10hrs of battery life, and rarely getting "service" warnings suggesting replacement. At least last time I needed to swap batteries I just needed a small screwdriver.
I was very concerned when they ditched removable batteries because that was one part I constantly had problems with. Since those issues were address I'm very glad they went that way.
I'm confused, are these standard CR2032 batteries or not? Do I have to buy some special Apple battery?
Funnily, the time for replaceable batteries in phones seems to have arrived, but users are now trained not to expect it.
Sending your phone in for a manufacturer battery replacement after 2 years of use to get a further 2 is a good compromise in my view. My last replacement was about $50.
I have a small one on me always that can charge my phone twice over
Because the obvious issue is that most people won’t.
Supporting 5-10 amps requires very small pins. It's a tiny percentage of the battery size.
> Then there’s the plastic lined battery well, as well as the plastic battery case. It’s not as simple as throwing plastic around a battery and calling it a day.
Yes, those are the layers of plastic I was talking about.
I didn't say you could slap something together in half an hour, I said it would cost close to zero dollars when talking about the per-phone price.
That very last phrase you said a millimeter. None of this will fit in one millimeter, which was my counter.
For the layers of plastic, the battery already has a wrapping, and the phone already has a back. You just have to reinforce the wrapping on the battery. How much thickness do you think that needs? It's definitely not five millimeters.
“It’s two lines of code, how hard can it be?”
More seriously, the cost of designing a battery pack goes way beyond that, just like in software there’s a world of difference between an internal and an external interface. Adding ESD protection for instance can be a headache.
It's absolutely bonkers to suggest a 20-30% increase in total cost that would be driven by design costs; that's more than doubling the entire design budget!
Just as an example, modern batteries require keeping track of a lot of parameters and metrics, and require keeping control of things like cell balancing. Making a battery removable means having to move all this into the pack, which then implies having exposed critical interfaces.
As an example check this device by Texas Instruments: BQ40Z50-R2. This gives you a lot of the functionality to the point that Apple keeps variants of them in current laptops, even if they're not removable anymore.
To make a software equivalent, imagine building an enterprise product that connects to a database, and then being asked to have this link exposed through public APIs. Now you need to consider delightful things like authentication, or being vulnerable to DDoS.
1. That just moves from phone to battery, doesn't it? That's not a cost increase for the bundle.
2. You don't need fancy things like cell balancing for a phone battery.
3. Even with this chip it's $4 BoM for small batches and significantly less in bulk. So that could be a 1% cost increase. So we have that, a thin plastic shell, and a tiny connector. How are we hitting 20-30% increases, hundreds of dollars?
2. You need a lot of fancy things, just not cell balancing. That “battery health indicator” all iphones have, guess where that’s from.
You can take it from someone who has built several devices with replaceable batteries, or we can just keep debating until I’ve fully explain to you how you actually build one of these.
The thing is, I don’t want to waste more time on this, you can do your research on your own, or just keep your preconceptions, whatever floats your boat.
Every phone needs new subassemblies and procedures. For the PCB, you end up with an extra one that's tiny true.
> 2. You need a lot of fancy things, just not cell balancing. That “battery health indicator” all iphones have, guess where that’s from.
> You can take it from someone who has built several devices with replaceable batteries, or we can just keep debating until I’ve fully explain to you how you actually build one of these.
> The thing is, I don’t want to waste more time on this, you can do your research on your own, or just keep your preconceptions, whatever floats your boat.
Where would I look?
I'm trying to follow your logic. But you mostly keep naming things phones already have. They already have all this engineering work. They already have the battery chip, it just changes location. And that chip is less than $3.
Could you please give me a couple sentence explanation of how you arrived at 20-30% for a phone that's designed from the start to have a removable battery? You keep nitpicking me for not understanding an argument that you never explained!
My understanding goes something like this: Posit a $600 phone of which $50 is the battery pouch. Remove battery pouch and chip from phone, replace with a connector, phone now costs $550? Add plastic shell and $3 chip and connector and tiny PCB onto the battery pouch. For the total price to rise 20%, doing that has to cost more than $100 and leave you with a battery that costs more than $150. How?
And phones didn't get massively cheaper when they stopped letting you remove batteries...
I do like having a thin phone, but the utility of a replaceable battery has been sorely downplayed over the years.
Yeah it's not free, but it's really nice if you underestimated your battery life since you're not tied to a single spot while charging it.
I realise that capacity is theoretically orthogonal to swappability, but functionally it's relevant because battery casings, compartments, connectors and chassis strengthening elements all take up space that could otherwise go to a larger battery pack.
I swore Tile off when I found out the hard way that the battery gives out a year from time of sale, not from when you activate it.
> What if my battery dies early?
> We do not control the lifespan of your Tile; the battery is guaranteed to last a full year (or 3 years for Sticker and Slim) from your purchase date. Your Tiles are covered for 12 months by our worry-free warranty! If your Tile’s battery dies before a year has passed from the time of purchase, we’ll replace it free of charge. Our Customer Care team would be happy to help you!
Not only price, but size/weight too. It seems that currently the thing is 99% battery/case/PCB and is designed around the battery. While technically wireless charging is off-the-shelf, incorporating that may have been seen as "too expensive" and/or "too large".
I've been using them for at least the last 2 years.
It is an agonising death over a period of days/weeks for the child and horrible for the parents to witness. Many times both the parents and medical professionals don't realise what is actually happening to the child until it is too late. There is growing support for much tighter regulations of these batteries and limiting there use overall.
Apple is certainly not the only company who are using them, not by a long shot. But they are not some holy grail of replaceable batteries and it surprising Apple would decide to use them now.
If you are interested ABC in Australia did a rather big report into the increasing incidents of button battery related deaths and injuries, telling the story of families who's lives were turned upside down by them. It is incredibly difficult reading.
I hate the trite “oh, you'll know when you're a parent!” stuff as much as the next person, but… have you met a one-year-old? So curious, and so quick to eat new things: a bad combo if I've ever seen one.
If you were a parent you would know that time is not available to you, that you cant sit and stare at the kids from morning to night. Rent/mortgages need to be paid, cleaning done, food prepared all the things that any person who is a parent is already well aware of. You do your best to protect them, but you are not innately gifted with the ability to see every perceived threat like some robot on the day a child is born.
The fact that it's a recurring problem should be clearly evident that it is not common knowledge, that the warnings are not there to inform parents. People on this thread who I can assume are reasonably smart and don't neglect their children didn't know the danger. So enough already, you're out of your depth on this topic.
So there are no such things as play pens in which you can create a secure and safe area while you are distracted with life?
And my point remains, if you need a warning that eating batteries is dangerous, perhaps wait a few years. The fact that this keeps reoccurring means people aren’t using their brain.
This is your logic. You already failed the test before becoming a parent. You would be a ‘bad parent’ in your own words.
We should adjust our behaves to accomodate companies unsafe products, that’s using your brain.
Source: me, aged nine. (I didn't have the “eat everything” instincts, but I still wanted to know what batteries taste like. Given how much time I spent with my tongue on a battery, I would probably have swallowed a button cell had I had access to one – and that's with warnings about “batteries will burn a hole through your insides” from my parents. Your average one-year-old doesn't stand a chance.)
They don’t realise the danger because there are no warnings, they assume a device is safe as is. Have you not figured that out yet?
The fact is, kids face many dangers and as a parent you cannot be aware of all of them. So if you’re introduced to a new danger and your reaction is “I didn’t know this, but now that I do I’m immediately making changes to prevent impact of this danger on my kid” that deserves praise. Not cheeky low effort guilt tripping.
I would be curious to see how Apple protects the battery compartment of the AirTag, I'm sure they thought about this.
eg, my car key fob needs to be forcefully pulled apart into three pieces before it even hints there's a battery inside.
This. I personally know a parent who lost a child this way. The worst scenario imaginable: the child swallowed a magnet, and then another one a day later. The magnets brought together two sections of their intestine. By the time the problem was serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital, it was too late.
Be very, very careful with small magnets.
Children can easily ingest objects 2cm in diameter, and batteries that size can be especially dangerous because of how they lodge in the esophagus.
Citing Eck, Langham says, "Clinical outcomes can be determined by assessing the diameter of the button battery, as 90% of all major or fatal outcomes are associated with lithium batteries of 20 to 25 mm in diameter"
'RESULTS: All 3 data sets signal worsening outcomes, with a 6.7-fold increase in the percentage of button battery ingestions with major or fatal outcomes from 1985 to 2009 (National Poison Data System). Ingestions of 20- to 25-mm-diameter cells increased from 1% to 18% of ingested button batteries (1990–2008), paralleling the rise in lithium-cell ingestions (1.3% to 24%). Outcomes were significantly worse for large-diameter lithium cells (≥20 mm) and children who were younger than 4 years. The 20-mm lithium cell was implicated in most severe outcomes.'
That ABC article I linked describes a family watching their 14-month old daughter dying over 19 days as the battery literally burns her insides while doctors continue to misdiagnose the problem until its too late. This is not a tragic one off incident, it is occurring repeatedly and will continue to do so if things stay as they are.
Excluding the issue of misdiagnosis, if every case was found by medical practitioner at first sight, there are still major complications and possible surgical intervention required to remove the battery.
These numbers are from a country with a population of 25 million. Im sure the numbers of injuries and deaths are much higher in countries like the US.
Parents should be doing that.
There's a tradeoff in form factor
maybe in the tile slim ones though
Say that to someone traveling for work.
There is so much innovation in science that it never materializes because it is not commercially viable for companies.
Almost any coin.
Apple did not invent device trackers with replaceable batteries. Tile has been doing that since 2018 on some of their devices (Basically all except the smallest ones), and I imagine someone else did it before then.
As Drake once said: "it ain't about who did it first/ It's about who did it right."
There's nothing wrong with being a fanboy, but don't pretend like you're not fanboying.
I don't have one so I can't conclusively say either way, but it seems like the only "innovation" Apple can probably claim over Tile is that every iPhone should support the network out of the box (I assume) rather than having to rely only on people who already have the app.
Integration into the Apple ecosystem is another huge one that Tile refused.
Did anyone say Apple was the first to do this?
No, no they did not.
So are you saying that nobody is allowed to be praised if it’s been done before?
Because that’s what it looks like to me, please correct me if I’m mistaken.
The disadvantage is that homebrew don’t get the network effects of a bunch of users who just happen to pass by when you dropped it in the park.
So the trade off is real and depends on how and when you tend to lose things.
They can easily be built for a few bucks. Good profits, and I expect many people will have 5-10 devices, because they're so cheap
Any object moved around by normal use would generate more than enough energy to charge a CR2032's worth in an entire year.
That would make it truly practical by never needing a battery change.
Apple didn't make anything significantly better than the Tile IMO, which also needs batteries to be replaced every year.
$100 for 4 of them sets you back a good amount... especially if you would have otherwise had to toss them after their internal batteries died
Regardless, though, I don't like the idea of a device that's designed to be landfilled every year; replaceable batteries are the right way to go here.
I have a fairly good set of in-ear 'phones that I can wear pretty much indefinitely on the ground, but I usually can't get keep them in for more than a couple hours while I'm on a plane. I've tried using different tips for them while on a plane, but nothing works.
This device will be used like find my phone - a removable battery will make it trivial for thieves to disable the tracking.
"An AirTag that has been separated from its owner for a long period of time will make an audible noise when it’s moved, as part of a privacy feature to let you know there’s a tag present."
At that point, I think making them $25 and having them broadcast every 30 seconds so that they can be found anywhere in the world if someone walks by them with an iPhone is an obviously better solution.
Of course there are wacky solutions, such as using autonomous drones as mobile base stations to find fully passive RFID tags as a home inventory solution. But that introduces a whole host of issues.
Ofcourse. User replaceable battery sold seperately made practical by Apple Inc.
Yes the batteries are replaceable now, for some models, but I even declined to interview there a couple times based on the obtuseness of this product decision. And partnering with HP... not my idea of cool.
But the "anti-stalking" feature will notify someone if an AirTag they don't own appears to be traveling with them.
Does this render it useless for anti-theft, then? Since it will just notify a thief that the bike they just stole is being tracked, and they can look for the AirTag and throw it in the nearest trash can?
Not criticizing Apple here -- anti-stalking is super-important -- but just looking for clarification if this will help you find lost items, but not stolen ones.
The anti-stalking feature also seems to contradict its privacy features:
> Bluetooth signal identifiers transmitted by AirTag rotate frequently to prevent unwanted location tracking.
But also, in the next sentence:
> iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time.
If an AirTag is supposed to be "anonymous", then how can a user be informed that this tag has been seen with them over an extended period? This would mean that there is a way to identify a particular AirTag in the first place.
My guess would be that you, as the tag owner, locally store the master beacon key and can use it to derive key required to decrypt received beacon payloads for your own tags. You can then filter out your own and approximate how many others (which you cannot link over time) you permanently see. If it is more than one most of the time, you’re probably tagged without your consent.
Edit: looks like it doesn't start beeping for three days (though Apple can change this server-side if they decide three days was a bad choice), which seems like way too long. A stalker could probably make good use of this in just a few hours, let alone three days.
The stalking potential is greatly reduced if the victim has an android as the location will only be sent when its detected by an iphone.
If the stalkee has an android they will never know. Their position will be snitched by every iDevice they come near.
"Lost devices. Devices that determine to be in a lost
state start sending out BLE advertisements with a public key to be discovered by finder devices. Devices are considered to be lost when they lose Internet connectivity.
Third-party accessories  are small battery-powered devices that can be attached to a personal item and are set up through an owner device.
Accessories are determined to be lost when they lose their BLE connection to the owner device.
Finder devices form the core of the OF network. As of 2020, only iPhones and iPads with a GPS module are offering finder capabilities. Finder devices can discover lost devices and accessories by scanning for BLE advertisements. Upon receiving an OF advertisement, a finder creates an end-to-end encrypted location report that includes its current location and sends it to Apple’s servers."
Elsewhere, it is clear that this operates even when flight mode is enabled.
If you can't stand criticism of Apple, please fuck off back to reddit and fanboi there.
Conceivably the beacons co-operate in preventing tracking by conversing with iPhones nearby to store a random code supplied by the phone for a period of time, and allowing any iDevice to ask for the list. If your iDevice sees the same random code it transmitted to a stranger beacon appear in multiple time periods it knows it is colocated.
I would guess that the colocation feature would allow you to track devices actively (tailing someone).
Spies will have to be alert the potential for both exposure and tracking. Hopefully Apple commissions Spy Vs Spy ad campaigns!
Random tags passing by wouldn't maintain the same distance or RSSI, and they wouldn't be spaced perfectly apart in time either.
Of course I'm making assumptions here about the key rotation frequency, or even if it's a regular intervals. I guess if you're spending a lot of time in crowds, the rotating beacon that's with you would be hard to pick out of the myriad other beacons coming within range all the time. ("Was that a key rotation, or another person?")
Also, I wonder if it is a fixed time with no overlap? Because you could certainly track someone, eg through a shopping centre, by seeing when a beacon turns off and then listening to new beacons. Correlation would be trivial. And if the e.g. 30m clock is accurate then you could reidentify hours later by just listening to the rollover time, so they would have to vary the rollover at least.
I wonder about false alarms, because you can easily sit on commuter train for an hour and have someone next to you, even more so for long distance travel.
Apply this principle to everything apple does and says about privacy and you see it everywhere in their products.
Even more cynically, you can say it's private from their competitors.
I've heard this from a few people recently, but I don't understand the implied criticism. What should Apple do here? Keep my data mostly private but also slip a copy of it to Google and Microsoft?
Obviously not. Through the high purchase price of their products, I'm paying (and trusting) Apple to manage my privacy and keep it private from everyone else. The fact that "everyone" necessarily includes all of Apple's competitors isn't just irrelevant, it's a red herring.
In other instances where Apple does have access to your data, there is a plausible justification for that access and no evidence shown where Apple has ever abused that access for commercial gain.
That is one example of many where apple could do it, but doesn't. To do many things on your apple device requires an apple id, which requires a phone number which is linked to identity. Location services uploads your location to apple constantly via close by wifi APs + GPS location, there is no option to do GPS only location w/ no network activity. All of this info is one secret supoena away to be uploaded to violent people with guns. YOU may trust your nice government, but many do not have the luxury of living in such a nice place.
Over and over again, you see the pattern of apple doing of 'private from everyone, except us'. And not mentioning the 'but us' part.
Obviously Apple is internally maintaining an association between the AirTag's permanent identifier, and its current temporary signal identifier.
This isn't E2EE or anything.
"Only you can see where your AirTag is. Your location data and history are never stored on the AirTag itself. Devices that relay the location of your AirTag also stay anonymous, and that location data is encrypted every step of the way. So not even Apple knows the location of your AirTag or the identity of the device that helps find it."
So no, Apple actively doesn't want to know anything. I'd wager a guess that the airtag query system is using the same kind of method as the COVID tracker API.
"Whether attached to a handbag, keys, backpack, or other items, AirTag taps into the vast, global Find My network1 and can help locate a lost item, all while keeping location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption."
I think it's referring to other aspects of the system -- this sentence is specifically referring to location data, not Bluetooth ID's.
In any case, my point remains that obviously Apple has to be internally associating the Bluetooth ID's with owner ID's.
They should have been practically begging oems to embed it.
I tried a couple of cheap Tile competitors but they all wanted you to use their apps and thus weren't very valuable. I almost bought some Tile products around the last Apple event in Fall 2020 but waited because I thought AirTags were going to be released then.
I'm still tracker-less so I'll be picking up a 4 pack of these and I am excited to use them. Here in the US at least, Apple has great marketshare to support a service like this and a proven track record with Find My already. I'm planning a cross country road trip that starts in about 2 months, and I'll feel a lot better about not accidentally leaving my wallet behind at campsite or hotel while I'm in a rush to get back on the road. Then, even if I did, all it takes to hopefully get my stuff back is for someone with an iPhone to walk by it to update it's location.
Unless Apple royally screws up this rollout, I don't see how Tile can continue to dominate marketshare for this sector.
>[...] And even if users don’t have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner for an extended period of time will play a sound when moved to draw attention to it. If a user detects an unknown AirTag, they can tap it with their iPhone or NFC-capable device and instructions will guide them to disable the unknown AirTag.
It is better supported on iPhones, but that's acceptable:
>iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time.
I'd like this detection to come in stock Android, similar to how the Contact Tracing thing was shared b/w Apple/Google.
This would be an ideal scenario, even if it took longer to roll out for Android phones thanks to the OS fragmentation
Even if that's not happening, I think its not entirely unreasonable for some reliable third party app to pop up an make disabling the AirTags with an Android device almost as easy as an iPhone.
Tile uses everyone with the tile app installed.
It's not the same by sheer numbers
Imagine I'm some kind of creep looking for victims in a club or whatever. I'm planning to accomplish this by dropping Tiles into their bags.
Statistically, how many Tiles would I need to buy and sneak onto persons in order to have a reasonable chance of snaring a victim who just happens to have the Tile app installed? 50? 100? 1000? Not impossible, but not particularly feasible.
How many AirTags would I need to sneak onto victims? Perhaps only one, if they happen to use their phone in public and I see it's from Apple -- that's something I can tell at a glance, unlike wondering if they have the Tile app installed.
Even a hairbrush:
What is certain is that we'll see sophisticated modifications to AirTags that (1) disable the beep, (2) disable anti-stalking.
Theoretically remote attestation and self-disabling anti-tamper could be used, but the potential wins for bypassing the Apple protocol are enormous, the Holy Grail of surveillance espionage.
Why are firmware modifications for this "certain" first off?
And what modifications allow this to work as designed without setting off anti-stalking? If you somehow change the ID it's reporting which afaik is a signed value anyways, how are you going to get access to it's location?
If you don't disable anti-stalking then this is no better than run of the mill GPS trackers which can already run for days to weeks
If you can change the ID you can cycle through a list of valid IDs. You can even use it for bit rate comms, ~16 bits an hour or something, which is enough to signal events like "number of iDevices in vicinity", or, if other hardware is used, step count/hour, which works even in GPS denied environments.
The beacon location reported by Find My is generated by the reporting phones' GPS/cellular/wifi location system.
Regular GPS trackers have no means to exfil their data. They don't work in GPS denied environments (poor inside buildings, underground, anywhere a $20 jammer is enabled). OCGs routinely use low power GPS jammers now. Using GPS or 3G requires much more energy, and 3G is easily detected by motivated groups.
So while it might not be great for stalking your partner/ex, it is very tempting for professionals.
... yeah I'm not going to play this game.
Nation states are certainly doing better than AirTags if that's what you're worried about Secret Agent.
Passive trackers will let you pinpoint someone indefinitely.
And someone motivated is going to catch your spurious 3G emissions but miss an AirTag literally designed to be noticable?
Puhlease. If a nation state is chasing you and this is what turns the tides I strongly suggest turning yourself into their embassy now, save yourself the trouble.
Nation states don't have a global network of iPhones.
> Passive trackers will let you pinpoint someone indefinitely.
> Puhlease. If a nation state is chasing you and this is what turns the tides I strongly suggest turning yourself into their embassy now, save yourself the trouble.
"Puhlease" enjoy pretending that nation states are all IDF 8200 elite cyber hackers. The future ubiquity and deniability of these devices will see them feature widely. And some people do need to defend against skilled attackers who can buy custom gear from Shenzhen, and telling them to give up is stupid.
If an actual nation state is out to get you what's so difficult about tracking you from half a mile away? Surely they're not chasing someone who's actively evading them since you think this person won't find an... AirTag. Something that's actively transmitting at regular intervals and has NFC capabilities.
> Adding a Field Marshall UHF to your GPS system allows you to precisely locate the transmitter inside GPS denied environments (inside a building, or locate the signals when GPS satellites are blocked), or when the transmitter is in thick cover.
Or attaching a GPS tracker that logs to it's internal storage that they then recover?
> enjoy pretending that nation states are all IDF 8200 elite cyber hackers
You can't even stay internally consistent to your own fantasy. First you're saying these people will crack Apple's state-of-the-art firmware systems on a brand new platform and signing arrangements to boot, now suddenly they're script kiddies?
And honestly it's disgusting how shameless you are about shoving words in my mouth "telling them to give up" where the fuck did I say that?
Go find something useful to do kid.
- How does the anti stalking alert in apartment buildings or people frequently in close proximity for long periods of time?
- Since they considered that this is a risk in the first place then are non Apple users are risk here too? Did they provide appropriate mitigations for them as well?
- What's the future for the Find My network? It would be interesting to standardize and allow for more interoperability in the Find My network.
For a stolen item you'd have that much time to track it down.
They could even track if different non-owned tags track the same person to stop stalkers diligent enough to swap these frequently.
It's an impressively good balancing of usefulness and avoiding bad spillover effects.
> I talked to folks from Apple today about some of this. The timeout period for when an AirTag will play a sound if separated from its owner is currently three days — but that’s not baked into the AirTags themselves. It’s a server-side setting in the Find My network, so Apple can adjust it if real-world use suggests that three days is too long or too short.
> The “NFC-capable device” thing means Android phones.
It would make sense to do the anti stalking
notification after say 4 days
You haven't thought this through! Seriously, the use cases for 96 hours of tracking are frightening.
1. Meet victim in club/bus/supermarket/wherever
2. Drop AirTag in their bag/pocket/whatever.
3. Now you know where they live and/or work assuming they go to one of those places in the next 96 hours.
Meet victim in club/bus/supermarket/wherever
I'm not an expert, but I don't think this is how stalking works in practice. People don't stalk random strangers they meet in the supermarket. They stalk former partners, and (more rarely) people they've developed an obsession about. That means the stalker has to worry about being recognized by the victim, and consequently will have fewer opportunities to plant a device and retrieve a device than you imagine.
Furthermore, while being tracked for up to 96 hours indeed is a frightening thought, the typical stalker's goal is to track their victim at all times. Having to plant and retrieve a device at least every four days, without being detected by the victim, makes for a very impractical way to achieve that goal.
I'm not an expert, but I don't think this is how
stalking works in practice. People don't stalk random
strangers they meet in the supermarket. They stalk
former partners, and (more rarely) people they've
developed an obsession about.
However, if not properly safeguarded, this sort of tech clearly can enable some new types of bad behavior.
Ultimately I'm a technology optimist and we shouldn't reject new tech simply because it might be misused. However it's also true that even the most cursory glance at history shows us that just about any new technology is also used for nefarious purposes.
But of course as I linked in another comment, trackers have been fit into anything and everything now. Hairbrushes, random trinkets like clocks, even a phone charging brick itself
If it's someone's backpack or leather jacket, it won't be obvious in any way if there's an AirTag slid deep into some pocket.
Sure a professional thief might check, but plenty of things are stolen casually by people who simply see something lying around.
...putting it in a faraday bag? Since tags are cheap, they can even smash it.
A related question: can you geofence an airtag so that you are notified if an item leaves an area without you? This could be especially helpful for things like bikes that you would park for long periods of time and would want to know if they’re being moved by someone other than you.
If they're outside they can get gravely injured as they pass through the smallest holes and cracks. There are very NSFL images of resulting injuries. The collars often lead to suffocation or very bloody scenes - no matter how well they seem to fit.
> Available from today (April 7, 2021), the latest VanMoof S3 & X3 bikes will work with Apple’s Find My app, which means you can track your ride securely using the vast and global Find My network, made up of hundreds of millions of Apple devices. With the new Items tab in the Find My app, you can locate your bike on a map from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
A shame. It would've been cool standing at that conveyor belt at the airport and rather than staring at the luggage as it comes, being able to sense one's own stuff.
Also, seems that it's not suitable for putting on a cat or dog's collar for the same reason.
Think about a stalker dropping a tracker into the pocket/bag/etc of their victim.
They slip a tracker in their co-worker's bag at the end of the day. Coworker goes home. Attacker knows where they live now.
Or, maybe it's a stranger on the bus. Or in a club.
The victim is likely going to be home in less than a few hours. Perhaps less than an hour.
No, I don't think so.
As I understand it, the idea is that AirTags would only beep if they detect being moved (probably, accelerometer/motion based, as everything else is probably energy cost-prohibitive). So, no, a forgotten keychain left on a table shouldn't beep on its own, unless someone takes it and carries with themselves for some time. It shouldn't even beep if your coworker notices your keys and moves them to another room for safekeeping.
The idea is that it should eventually alert if you put a tag in someone's back pocket and you or they walk away.
Of course, if the person being stalked wasn't carrying a cell phone, then this raises the possibility the anti-stalking wouldn't be activated.
I could see businesses being a lot more willing to loan equipment for a trial period if they could put a tag on it.
you're not supposed to put batteries in your luggage
Seems like it should be able to detect that it's always traveling together with a single Android phone's WiFi signal, for example.
However it might be better to disconect the speaker which should save lots of energy the peeper would consume otherwise.
I don't think apple checks for the speeker to be connected if the speaker breaks for example it would make the tag unusable resulting in more warrenty complains.
It's hard to make tracking devices hidden. They need to phone home, so that means they emit a signal. Someone can sniff that out using a RF detector. that's why tracking devices tend to be integrated into the product itself (eg. into the ECU for cars, or part of the CPU/motherboard for computers).
They wouldn't because we already have TONS of historical data that thieves don't do that.
I am a motorcycle lover and like every owner of a nice bike I know that apart from properly chaining your bike down the single most effective way of retrieving your bike back is by having a tracker on it. In fact some insurance companies give a big discount if you have a professionally mounted tracker on your bike.
History has shown that despite motorcycles being worth 10-20k thieves still don't go through the effort of locating and removing a GPS tracker. What they do is the following... they steal your bike and only move it like 10 streets further away from its original location into some hidden dark dead end alley where no person would normally go and where the owner wouldn't find it by accident. Then they leave it there standing for like 2 weeks and if nobody comes to pick it up within those 2 weeks then they know there is no GPS tracker at which point they can safely take it back to their garage where it gets dismantled into and rebuild. Otherwise they risk of having their garage being exposed.
Now you might ask why only take it 10 streets further away? Because the easiest way is to cut a chain or some poor security and then wheel it down the road for 5 minutes. Only two weeks later they come with a proper vehicle to transport it away.
So if professional thieves can't be bothered (or is just practically too difficult) to locate a tracker then I'm sure normal opportunistic thieves won't be able either.
Their modus operandi is to throw a bicycle into a truck or van, move them in lots of fifty across state lines, and tear them down to components.
Any trackers will be quickly rendered useless once they're in the van, and immediately found and discarded.
I'm definitely planning on getting Airtags for my bikes, but mostly for amusement and occasionally forgetting where I parked, I don't have much faith in them as an anti-theft device.
You can build a custom LoRa based tracker with 100+km range (line of sight), a van won't disable that. You'll have to use signal triangulation, though, because GPS reception in a van won't be great.
For a custom solution, ExpressLRS  is an open source system that can be flashed to FrSky R9mm receivers that you can hack on to add features you want. Or buy Semtech  and ESP32 modules and build your own hardware to maximize transmit power (standard hobby receivers only have 25-40mW telemetry)
PS. TTGO LORA32 modules  already have ESP32 and Semtech module assembled, only need flashing (again, lower power than a dedicated 30dbm module)
They do have an easier job, I think, given that bicycles don't usually weigh between 400lb (sports motorcycles) and 900lb (cruisers).
still kind of silly since a saddle is an easily stolen part
Seems feasible that having a sniffer for fancy apple trackers could locate some potentially valuable things to steal.
The difference between the GPS and these tags is they actively respond to bluetooth. If you can sniff the bluetooth traffic then you would be able to detect them easily?
The other question is: when presented with evidence of stolen property, will the local PD enforce the law and assist with the retrieval of said property?
To be fair when my bicycle was stolen the police did care, but they were quite frank with me about the odds of recovery being virtually zero despite having CCTV of the incident and the getaway vehicle.
Tracking with AirTags assumes the thief (or someone closeby) uses an iPhone AND has the 'Fine my' feature activated, which is, given how motorcycle thieves operate in some areas of the world, is relatively unlikely. So you're probably still better off using a GPS+GSM tracker
In fact I would hazard to say most are not.
A few smart thieves will share the tricks. Probably many smart peoples are even going to try building detector devices.
"AirTag notifies bike thief about itself"
For Apple this is a no-brainer.
Another case of your device working against your interests.
I don't care if you have something to hide or not. This just sucks at a fundamental level.
Apple's trying to prevent misuse of their device. They want you to use it to find your keys, not your ex. If you consider that an invalid limitation of your device (by notifying your ex that they seem to be carrying an unknown tracker)... well, let's just say I disagree.
And this can be perceived as - arguably - restrictive and user-hostile by some.
As far as I can tell from reading the article, all it does is say, "Hey, did you know you've been carrying around a tracker that's not yours?" Your cat or your luggage don't care if you attach a tracker to them. Your ex does.
Just go buy some other tracker for your cat or whatever.
Current GPS collars are absolutely trash (3 day battery life, bulky, etc), this would be about 10,000 times better if effective. But if it starts beeping randomly unprompted and scares the dog, it's a problem.
Everyone has their own needs, requirements and ideas what's essential and what's not. Importance and justifications are subjective matters.
Only thing everyone can certainly agree on that those use cases were not deemed important (or even considered) by Apple, as they would've designed it differently otherwise.
That’s anti-user. The user is the one trying to do the tracking.
Anyways, I don't think there was ever any intent for AirTags to function as an anti-theft tracking device. Anti-theft is much harder to do well than anti-loss (which is what Apple is targeting), and is very difficult to distinguish from stalkerware for a mass-market product.
which is specifically a problem Apple has had with "Find My", so it's nice to see them taking it seriously here.