AirTags for $29 each: Here's how Apple's Tile rival works

Apple finally debuted its AirTag tracking tiles at Spring Loaded -- its first virtual event of 2021. The reveal comes after Apple enabled third-party companies to locate lost items in its Find My app earlier this month, signaling the company's growing interest in tracking tech outside of core Apple products. Until now, AirTags have remained elusive at Apple events, but rumors persisted, going back to 2019.

Pieces began to fall into place after AirTag tech was hinted at in the iOS 13 code and when iPhone 11 was found to have incorporated ultra wideband, or UWB, technology. The groundwork for the gadgets was laid even farther back with the iBeacon -- small, inexpensive Bluetooth transmitters that aimed to provide location-based information and services to iPhones -- in 2014. While Bluetooth can track items to within about 5 meters, UWB can track items up to a distance of 5 to 10 centimeters.

AirTags will be available for order on April 30. The new tech costs $29 per tag, or $99 for a four-pack.

The tech giant's tracker tech is finally here, though. Here's everything you need to know about AirTags and how they work.

What are AirTags?

AirTags will work similarly to Tile tags in that you can clip the small devices onto keys, bags and the like with a separate keychain. AirTags can be paired with items like your iPhone, and work with the Find My app.

The AirTags are small, lightweight stainless steel discs with the Apple logo on one side and the ability to personalize the other side with 31 different emojis if you want for free. The new devices are also water and dust resistant with removable covers that make it easy to change the CR2032 battery.

How do AirTags work?

After your set up the AirTag, it'll appear in the new items tab of the Find My App. From there, you can see the item's last known location if you've attached an AirTag to it. If the item is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My App to signal the AirTag's built-in speaker to play a sound. AirTags also have Siri-support so your iOS assistant can help you locate the lost item.

The tags use Apple's U1 chip with Ultra Wideband technology to use Precision Finding -- a feature that uses camera input, ARKit, accelerometer and gyroscope to guide you to your AirTag with sound, haptics and visual feedback. With the Find My app, you'll get helpful notes like how many feet away your AirTag is and in what direction. Precision Finding also has a voiceover option to help low-vision or blind users.

If you're out of Bluetooth range, you can put your AirTag into Lost Mode and get a notification when it's within range of the Find My network. If someone else finds your AirTag, they can use their own iPhone or NFC-capable device to view the owner's contact number if one is listed.

What do I need to use AirTags?

AirTags will require an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 14.5 or later. iPads running iOS 14.5 or later can also be used. Users will also need an Apple ID to sign into their iCloud account.