Apple loves a good second-gen product, frequently snaring early adopters with a promising but flawed or incomplete original product before hitting the mainstream with a sequel that fixes the biggest issues with the first model. This list goes on—Apple Watch, Apple Pencil, even the original iPhone. And now we can add the AirTag to that list. While there’s a lot to like about Apple’s tracker, there are several ways Apple can improve it with the inevitable AirTag 2.
The hole truth
Some object trackers have holes and some do not, but the ones against which the AirTag is most obviously competing—the Tile Pro and Mate, Samsung SmartTag, even the Chipolo One Spot hosted on Apple’s own Find My network—tend to fall into the Swiss cheese category. They have a hole, and thus they are the mid-size trackers you’re most likely to see attached to a key ring.
The lack of a hole in the AirTag isn’t surprising given Apple’s well-known penchant for impeccable minimalism, but it’s also unfashionable and inconvenient. And you force customers to buy an accessory that may cost you the same AirTag — although, from Apple’s point of view, that inconvenience might be seen as a feature rather than a bug.
Different sizes for different uses
When you go to buy an AirTag, there is one shape and size to choose from. Tile, on the other hand, sells a variety of designs: the Decal with an adhesive back for remote controls and gadgets, the Mate and Pro, which are great for switches and zippers, and the Flat Slim, which slips neatly into a wallet.
The optimal design of the tracker depends on the functionality that will be given to it, and having a full range of designs is a major advantage that Tile currently holds over its competitors. AirTag is quite versatile thanks to its accessories, but there are still some things that will not work well with it. Expanding the font will solve this problem and help make AirTag more versatile.
AirTag is excellent at helping you track down things that are lost, but it would be better to avoid losing them in the first place – which is where the separation alert feature comes in handy. If the user requests it, it will simply trigger a notification and play a ringtone from the tracker if the AirTag and its companion iPhone are separated by more than 10 feet or so, immediately warning you that you left your keys in a taxi or dropped them in the sand at the beach.
The disconnect alert may seem like a basic feature of Bluetooth trackers, but it’s actually not available on Samsung’s SmartTag or the standard tiles (although you can get smart alerts if you pay for a Premium subscription). But Apple is uniquely positioned to offer such a feature, and it’s missing an easy and obvious way to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re looking for something you’ve lost in your home, map-based tracking won’t do much good. That’s when the Find My app will take you to the exact search mode, which provides the exact distance and direction of the AirTag, provided you have an iPhone 11 or 12 with an ultrawide chip. The app will switch to UWB at a distance of about 30 feet, but (at least in our tests) the mode doesn’t actually give you any usable tracking information until you’re about 10-15 feet away.