Shares by the AppleVis Editorial
- Apple Releases iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5; Bringing Accessibility Fixes, Support for AirTag, Privacy Enhancements, and More
Apple AirTag; Not Perfect, but Close to Being a Must Have for Anybody Who Is Blind or Low Vision and Uses an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12
By David Goodwin | April 30, 2021
After two years of rumour, speculation, and much hype, Apple’s AirTag has finally arrived; and my early impressions and experience suggest that it might have been worth the wait if you are blind or low vision – most particularly so for those who use an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12.
For those unfamiliar, AirTag is Apple’s new Bluetooth tracker announced at its recent “Spring Loaded” event. It’s a button-shaped device intended to be attached to items that you might commonly misplace like keys; wallets; jackets; and backpacks, enabling their location to be tracked in the Find My app. Additionally, an AirTag can be set as lost, and any iPhone user who passes close to it will be alerted to its presence, and can optionally be sent a contact number and message that will help them reunite the lost AirTag with its owner. To further increase the likelihood of people being reunited with lost AirTags, anybody who doesn’t have an iPhone but does have an NFC-capable phone is also able to identify a lost AirTag if they find it.
So far, AirTags might be sounding rather dull. One of those things you buy, hoping that you will never actually have to use.
But, before you tune out, let me introduce you to another of the AirTag’s features, Precision Finding. This is where things get a little more interesting. Perhaps even quite exciting, for Precision Finding combines augmented reality, sound, and haptic feedback to guide users of iPhones with a U1 chip to the precise location of an AirTag. Oh, and did I mention that Apple has stated that AirTag includes support for the accessibility features built into iOS, such as VoiceOver?
Are you with me here in thinking of how Precision Finding could offer significant added value to somebody who is blind or has low vision?
Are you thinking of those occasions when you misplace something, and one or more of independence; pride; stubbornness; or nobody else being close by results in you spending minutes or more trying to locate your lost item?
Are you thinking of those times when you resort to asking a family member; housemate; friend; work colleague; or nearby stranger to be your eyes and find something for you?
Are you thinking about how nice it might be to instead simply grab your iPhone, and play a quick game of hot or cold – also known as Precision Finding in this case – to be guided towards the exact location of that misplaced item?
These thoughts and the relatively low price of US$29 for a single pack AirTag were enough to pique my interest and have me hit the pre-order button as soon as it became available.
What follows are my early impressions and experience with an AirTag. Read on to discover how despite the operational range of Precision Finding not being as far as I had anticipated and there being a few other disappointments, AirTags are still likely to be a useful addition to the toolbox of gadgets and apps that help to empower me.