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If you're always misplacing keys or wallets (guilty), Apple AirTags could be the solution. The small, circular tracking devices, which sell for $29 each, can be attached to almost anything you want to keep track of — pets, keys, bags, luggage, your toddler, etc. AirTags use Bluetooth technology to communicate with nearby Apple devices, allowing you to locate them through the "Find My" app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. (Does anyone still own an iPod, though?)

With Southwest's cancellation fiasco — more than half of the airline’s flights were scrapped during December's holiday rush — mountains of lost luggage were seen piling up in airports nationwide. Of course Southwest and other carriers with mass cancellations have been dealing with droves of angry customers demanding to find their lost luggage.

The U.S. Department of Transportation called Southwest’s cancellations, delays, and lack of customer service “unacceptable,” and said it would launch an investigation into its ticketing services.

If you were one of the (semi-luckier) travelers that had an AirTag on your luggage, though, you'd be able to see exactly where your luggage is. (Hooray for small silver linings!)

To use AirTags effectively, follow these steps:

  • Attach an AirTag to the item you want to track. You can use the keyring that comes with the AirTag or attach it to a bag or luggage using the included loop.
  • Set up the AirTag on your device. Open the Find My app and select "Add Item" from the bottom of the screen. Follow the prompts to set up the AirTag and give it a name (for example, "Keys" or "Luggage").
  • Enable Lost Mode for the AirTag. If you lose track of the item with the AirTag attached, you can put the AirTag into Lost Mode through the Find My app. This will cause the AirTag to emit a sound when it comes within range of any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch signed in to iCloud and with the Find My app open — a worldwide network of devices looking out for you.
  • Keep track of the AirTag's location. The Find My app will show you the current location of the AirTag on a map; if the AirTag is moving, you will be able see its location history and see where it’s been recently.
  • Customize your notifications. You can set up the notifications you see for your AirTag through the Find My app — to alert you when the AirTag arrives at or leaves a specific location, for example. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do Apple AirTags work?

Apple AirTags have a unique identification number broadcast through Bluetooth — allowing it to be found by anyone’s nearby Apple devices signed into an iCloud account and loaded with an open Find My app. When an AirTag is within range of one of these devices, its location is sent anonymously to iCloud and relayed to the owner of the AirTag through the Find My app. This allows the owner to see the location of the AirTag on a map and track its movements. 

  • Are Apple AirTags waterproof?

No. Apple AirTags have an IP67 water resistance rating, which means they are resistant to dust and can withstand being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This rating doesn’t make them waterproof, and they should not be used in wet or rainy conditions. If an AirTag gets wet, it should be dried as soon as possible to prevent damage. It is always a good idea to protect electronic devices from water and moisture; they can be damaged easily by exposure to harsh elements.

  • How do Apple AirTags charge?

Apple AirTags are designed to be used for an extended period without needing to be charged or replaced. An AirTag that’s running low enters a power-saving mode to extend its battery life. When the battery is depleted, the AirTag will no longer be able to broadcast its location and must be replaced. To replace the battery in an AirTag, press down on the polished stainless steel battery cover and rotate counterclockwise until the cover stops rotating; remove the cover and replace the old battery with a new CR2032 lithium 3V coin battery (available at most electronic and drugstores) with the positive side facing up.

  • How long is an Apple AirTag's battery life? 

The exact battery life of an AirTag depends on how often it is used and how far it is from a device signed into iCloud with the Find My app open. In general, an AirTag should last several months — or even up to a year — before the battery needs to be replaced.

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