AirTag: What Is It and Can I Use It to Track My Business Assets?
AirVote team often talks to customers about GPS and geolocating.
One question that keeps coming from many field equipment operators or portable restroom operators:
“Can I use a device like AirTag to track my assets in the field?”
We have researched this topic and sharing our findings – simple, practical, and to the point. This information is as of 2022 and “to the best of our knowledge”.
What is AirTag?
- – A coin-size round tracker that costs under $30, does not require a subscription and has a one-year battery life. When linked to an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Mac), it transmits its geolocation using Apple’s built-in FindMy app.
How does it work?
- – AirTag uses Apple devices of other people within thirty feet nearby to transmit its position. The information is sent to Apple, and the owner can see the AirTag’s geolocation from their FindMy app.
Does it need WiFi?
- – No. AirTag uses Bluetooth and radio waves (called ultra wide band) which range up to 100 meters (approximately 30 feet).
Does it need Internet?
- – Technically yes, but for your practical purposes, no. AirTag does not require the Internet to transmit its location to a nearby Apple “finder” device. If the finder device is not connected to the Internet, it transmits it to other devices nearby, and so on, until it gets to the device connected to the Internet. That device sends the information to Apple.
So, it uses other people’s internet connection. Is it a problem? Yes, AirTag does use other people’s Internet. The main requirement is that the Apple device must have opted into FindMyapp (enabled by default on Apple devices).
Here is a list of possible concerns if you are walking around with an iPhone that automatically sends information about other devices nearby:
- – Cost: minimal – the actual amount of the data is so small (28 bytes) that it does not impact your bill.
- – Battery life: same as cost – minimal and not to worry about.
- – Privacy of the AirTag’s owner: No issue. It uses encryption and private key technology. The device passing the AirTag location cannot see who the owner is.
- – Privacy of the “finders” device’s owner: No issue. The information about AirTag is passed without associating it to the device, and even Apple can’t see it.
- – Can I block it? Yes, if you opt out of the FindMy app.
Is AirTag something new?
- – No. The company called Tile has been making these trackers since 2013 for personal use – locating your keys, or other personal items. Apple’s FindMy app has already been doing similar tracking for other Apple devices, such as iPhones, AirPods, or Macs, since 2019 – also for personal use.
Now the answer: Can I use AirTags to track my business assets? As of now (2022), it does not seem practical. Here is why:
- – Each individual Apple user can only have up to 16 AirTags assigned to them.
- – Only one person can track an AirTag; you can’t assign it to the team or set any roles.
For a business looking for a simple and practical way to track their assets plus receive customer feedback about service quality, AirVote QR Smiley® may be a good option. A set of QR code smileys is displayed to the user asking to provide feedback. No maintenance or electronics. After scanning the QR smiley with a smartphone, it can ask the user to share their GPS location. In our experience with thousands of responses, about half of the users allow sharing it. The location and the user feedback are then sent to the business. Connect with the AirVote team to learn more…