Apple’s new AirTag trackers are finally here after years of rumors. The $ 29 trackers work with the Find My Apple network, using Bluetooth and PCB technology to help owners track anything from their keys to their luggage.
But the design of the new trackers is a bit controversial: unlike most Bluetooth trackers, Apple’s iteration does not include a built-in key ring loop. The ensuing debate has shattered tranquility The Vergenewsroom about whether Apple’s somewhat Spartan design is great or fake. Well, at least between two of the most genteel Edges staffers, Jon Porter and Chaim Gartenberg.
Jon Porter, reporter: Debate me, coward
Chaim Gartenberg, news editor: Proud!
Jon: Let’s start with a point that we both definitely agree on: it’s a relief to see that the AirTags battery can be replaced. It sounds like such a basic point, but given Apple’s track record with its AirPods, Magic Mouse, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook line, Magic Keyboard – wait if anything else Apple does have the batteries of the can they be changed? – it was not a guarantee. Keyate-focused Mate and Pro trackers have removable batteries, but its Sticker (which has a very similar form factor to the AirTag) does not.
Chaim: I will allow you easy-to-use, replaceable batteries are always a good thing. And overall, the overall aesthetics of the AirTags are nice, with two-tone glossy white plastic / chrome reminiscent of the old iPods. But the overly sleek Apple design highlights my biggest issue here: there’s no loop or built-in hole to attach a key ring.
The AirTag is a product designed to track your keys, yet offers no way to associate itself with those keys out of the box, something that is practically in the table of Tile , Chipolo, and almost every other Bluetooth tracker of the last decade. .
Jon: I hear you, but I think Apple’s approach is better. It means it can sell just one version of the AirTag to track whatever item you want, rather than selling different devices whether you want to track your keys, or your bike, or your jacket. Just buy AirTag and buy whatever accessory you need to attach. And for what it’s worth, I really like the design of the small holder accessory they sell to attach the AirTag to a set of keys.
Chaim: That little keychain accessory costs $ 35, that is more than a whole AirTag. Even Apple’s cheapest AirTag case, the $ 30 plastic link, doesn’t look like it will even be useful for attaching it to keys. This is just a typical Apple accessory tax, imposed on customers because of a deliberate choice of aesthetic form rather than a useful function.
And don’t get me started on Hermès accessories …
Jon: Okay, I’m not going to argue that the $ 349 Hermès key ring is unbelievably stupid, and it would be nice if the leather key ring actually included AirTag for that price. The setup is too expensive, period, and hopefully third-party accessory manufacturers will step in to fill the demand for cheap keychain holders.
But more importantly, I think separating the piece of technology from the holder bit makes sense for an accessory that will have to withstand so much abuse on a daily basis. Keys can be sharp, and they beat anything that shares a pocket with them, so I would prefer if the thing being beaten is a holder rather than the core piece of technology.
Look at a Tile key fob tracker that has been in use for a couple of years, and it looks creepy as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people reset the entire device when the battery runs out, so they get a shiny new tracker. But when your AirTag keychain inevitably starts to look worse for wear, you’re just replacing the holder rather than the tracker itself.
Chaim: These are all valid points, but you overlook the fact that these accessories and protective cases may exist in them the addition to include a break to attach a key ring directly. Already there is a similar cottage industry of accessories for Tile trackers for those who want them, and with Apple’s marketing power behind it, there’s no reason to think that AirTags wouldn’t have closed that level of interest from accessory makers, even if there was a break for a key ring.
Cases aren’t bad – Apple’s leather option looks great and is almost certainly a more solid option than my theoretical cut. But it would be nice to give customers the choice, instead of just forcing them into an option that requires spending more money from the start.
Jon: However, at a certain point, you are running against physical limitations, and Apple has to choose its battles. I already see some of our esteemed colleagues at Slack complaining about how thick these trackers are, which I ventured because Apple had prioritized building in a removable battery. Adding a loop with enough space for a key chain to go through adds even more bulk. You have to draw the line somewhere.
Chaim: Fair enough. So, Jon, do you buy an AirTag tracker?
Jon: Honestly, I’m going to wait and see how the third-party accessories work out. If I can get a half decent leather keychain holder for the equivalent of $ 20, then I think it makes a lot of sense to spend $ 50 all in with the tracker itself. Yourself?
Chaim: I might buy one to stick in my luggage at some point, but generally I don’t lose my keys enough to need to invest in a tracker for them (possibly famous last words). Especially not at the $ 65 price tag that Apple requires full key ring setup.