Apple AirTags: Price, engraving and everything else to know about the Tile rival

Apple unveiled its AirTag tracking tiles Tuesday at Spring Loaded -- the company's first virtual event of 2021. The reveal comes the same month Apple began allowing its Find My app to locate lost items made by third-party companies, signaling the iPhone maker's growing interest in tracking tech outside of core Apple offerings.

Rumors of an upcoming AirTag product had gone back to 2019, and the pieces began to fall into place for Apple watchers after AirTag tech was hinted at in the iOS 13 code and when the iPhone 11 was found to have incorporated ultra wideband, or UWB, technology. The groundwork for the gadget was laid even farther back, in 2014, with the iBeacon, a small, inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter that aimed to provide location-based information and services to iPhones. While Bluetooth can track items to within about five meters, UWB can track them to within five to 10 centimeters.

Now that Apple's tracking tag has arrived, here's everything you need to know about the AirTag and how it works.

What's an AirTag?

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. The tags can be used without they keychain as well and users can slip them into wallets or bags. 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 a free engraving. The new devices are also water and dust resistant with removable covers that make it easy to change the CR2032 battery, which promises a year's worth of battery life with everyday use.

How much do AirTags cost and when can I get one?

If you want to order an AirTag, you'll be able to do so on April 23 (here's where you can preorder an AirTag). General sale of the tags begins on April 30. The new tech costs $29 per tag, or $99 for a four-pack. And while it's not absolutely you required, you can more easily attach AirTags to your items with the keychain accessory. Here's what Apple is offering:

In addition, Apple and Hermès also created AirTag Hermès which features a line of handcrafted leather bag charms, key rings, travel and luggage tags. While stylish, the AirTag Hermès is pretty pricey:

How do AirTags work?

After your set up the AirTag, which Apple says works the same as the AirPod pairing process, it'll appear in the new items tab of the Find My App. You can name your items as well with the suggestions from the app or your own.

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.

Do AirTags keep my information private?

During its AirTag announcement on Tuesday, Apple touched on privacy. The company said people can participate in the Find My Network without having the share their location with anyone, including Apple. Carolyn Wolfman-Estrada, an engineer at Apple, safety features are in place that discourage unwanted tracking like unwanted tag detection, rotating Bluetooth signal identifiers and audible alerts from unknown tags.

"AirTag is designed to track items, not people," Apple's Carolyn Wolfman-Estrada explained during Tuesday's event.

AirTag doesn't store any location data or history and communication history through the Find My app is end-to-end encrypted, according to Apple.

What can I get engraved on my AirTag?

Apple will engrave one side of your AirTag for free after you purchase. When you reach the order screen, you can choose from 31 different emojis, numbers (zero through 50), and the alphabet. Because the tags are pretty small, you can choose up to four characters to engrave on the back. As you choose your emojis, letters and numbers, you'll see a preview of what the tag will look like engraved.

What do I need to use AirTags?

AirTags will need a device running iOS 14.5 or later. Users will also need an Apple ID to sign into their iCloud account. Here are the compatible devices: