Fun Time: AirTags Can Help You Find Almost Anything
I don’t know about you, but I am very slow to adopt new technology. For example, I do not own a smartwatch. I am quite happy with my dumbwatch. But I was impressed the other day when I spotted a young man asking his watch the time. He didn’t even have to look at it.
Young man: “What time is it?”
Smartwatch: “Time to pay your credit card bill.”
Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t adopt new technology quickly is the price. When a gadget or device is introduced to the market, the price is usually too high and I have to wait until it’s low enough to fit into the budget of anyone who buys me Christmas gifts. Another reason is that I want other people to enjoy the product first. I don’t want to selfishly deprive others of the opportunity to be the first people on the planet to be exposed to any side-effects. Once they’ve determined that the product is safe to use, I might give it a try.
Of course, products are usually tested thoroughly before they’re released to the public. But manufacturers cannot predict every outcome, every potential use or misuse of a product. This is the case with the AirTag, a tracking device that Apple introduced in 2021. The battery-powered AirTag, slightly bigger than a 25-cent coin, was designed to use Bluetooth signals to help people find missing objects, such as keys, electronic devices, bicycles, and cars.
Many people use AirTags to keep track of their luggage when they travel. For example, if you are flying from Mumbai to London and your suitcase goes missing, Apple’s crowdsourced ‘Find My’ network will put you at ease, showing you that your suitcase is in Astana, Kazakhstan.
How do you get it back? Well, you look through Facebook to see if you can befriend someone in Kazakhstan. You tell your friend the exact location of the AirTag hidden in your suitcase, and they track it down and send you a report: “I found it! I found your AirTag! No sign of your suitcase though.”
Okay, that’s a worstcase scenario. In many cases, travelers have used AirTags to locate their missing luggage and then convinced airlines to retrieve them.
But criminals and others have also used AirTags for illegal purposes. Some car thieves have placed AirTags on expensive vehicles in shopping malls, so they can track them to homes and steal them at night.
People have also used AirTags to track other people without their permission. If your husband comes home late after work and is never hungry, you may wonder if he’s stopping at some woman’s house for dinner every evening. An AirTag placed in his car may allow you to confront him: “You do not like my cooking? Is that why you are always stopping at your mother’s house?”
Some people are also using AirTags to keep track of their dogs and cats. An AirTag can be attached to a pet’s collar. If your pet goes missing, you can determine its location. But if your pet has been stolen, you’d better hope that the thief doesn’t remove the AirTag and mail it to Kazakhstan.
AirTags are also being used to keep track of children. But Apple does not approve of this. If you want to keep track of your kids, the company advises you to buy each of them an Apple Watch. The benefits are many: your kids won’t get lost, you’ll be able to track the number of steps they take each day, and Apple will be more profitable.
As you can guess, I haven’t yet used an AirTag. But if you’re wondering if there’s anything I’d like to track, the answer is ‘yes.’ I’d like to track my privacy. If I ever lose it, I hope it doesn’t end up in Kazakhstan.
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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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