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    Apple Airtag – A cheap and easy GPS solution for your motorbike

    At AloRide, we love to try new tech for managing our business at scale. When Apple released the Airtag last month, we immediately decided that this is a perfect tool for us to track our assets – due to its robust network of iOS devices, its one year battery life, and its amazingly low cost of maintenance.

    This is not a real GPS device. How it works is the AirTag can connect to the nearby iPhones via Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) technology and transmit the data required to trace the location, while keeping it fully anonymous.

    An Apple AirTag could be used to track all manner of things: people, belongings, pets and even vehicles. But is a S$45 device really up to the job of tracking the whereabouts of your motorbike if it’s stolen or went missing?

    I have spent the past week testing with the first 20 AirTags to track our bikes, even my own Vespa. Here’s what I’ve found – and why the AirTag might well be worth every cent if your motorbike went missing.

    Locating a motorcycle
    Tracking Airtag using Find My app

    The key question I suspect most people want answered is could the AirTag help track down a missing motorcycle. My answer is totally a ‘yes’.

    Let’s be clear about the AirTag’s limitations: This is not a live tracking GPS device. You will not be able to see a little dot moving across Apple Maps, plotting the motorcycle’s live journey. It’s not a GPS tracker and the updates provided from an AirTag are sporadic.

    The key thing is that the AirTag doesn’t have to lock on to your iPhone to provide a location – it will latch onto any modern iOS device. If your motorcycle thief happens to have an iPhone on them, the updates might be regular. If not, you could be waiting ten minutes, half an hour or even hours between location updates, because it will need someone to pass close by with an iPhone/iPad.

    This obviously means that the AirTag is a much better tracker in busy urban environments than it is in rural areas. Fortunately, Singapore is a highly dense urban-area – which helps to track the bike very effectively.

    During my testing week, the AirTag has managed to accurately locate the parked location of my Vespa every time. One of the advantages of using an AirTag rather than a GPS system to track a vehicle is that it can still locate motorcycles in underground car parks. And if you’re trying to locate your vehicle in said car park, the ‘Precise Finding’ feature (only available on iPhone 11 or 12 models) might even help you pinpoint the motorcycle’s exact location in that motorcycle park, although by the time Precise Finding kicks in you’ll probably be able to see your bike anyway.

    Cost of maintenance of an AirTag vs. a traditional GPS system
    • Base cost: $45 Airtag vs. $30-100 traditional GPS system
    • Maintenance: $0.5 CR2032 battery change annually for AirTag, vs. $10+ per month for a SIM card for a traditional GPS system
    • Installation: Just slip/stick the AirTag disc to a compartment, vs. wiring and getting a SIM card for a traditional GPS system

    The AirTag clearly wins the comparison by a huge gap. You would save $120+ per year for vehicle tracking when using AirTag.

    If you can buy the AirTag using Apple Employee Purchase Program, it would be 134 Singapore Dollars per a pack of 4 Airtags, or 89 USD if you want to buy from Apple USA and forward to Singapore using EzShip.

    Placing the AirTag in the motorbike

    One concern you might have about using an AirTag to track your motorcycle is whether the device has to be placed in open sight to send/receive a signal. That would make it much easier for motorcycle thieves to spot and discard.

    The good news is that isn’t the case. I put the AirTag in various hidden locations within the motorcycle this week, including in the battery compartment and the AirTag has continued to send a location beacon, thus making it very hard for thieves to know they are being tracked.

    Tip: How to disable the annoying “AirTag Found Moving With You” message

    Install an Airtag into a battery compartment
    Unwanted Tracking Prevention

    We tried to link the AirTag to another iCloud account to check its anti-stalking feature. Below are our observations:

    •  We started the trip at 11.03 PM.
    • The iPhone recorded that it was first seen with us at 11.08 PM.
    • The safety alert popped up at 11.31 PM.
    • The start/end locations are random, not any of our significant locations.
    In our test, it took nearly 30 minutes for the iPhone to start notifying you. 

    Because the engine sound was loud, and with the street noise, it’s impossible for you to hear any beeping sound from the AirTag itself, even though it would started to emit sound after 3 days.
     
    Please note that only iPhone users who are running iOS 14.3 and above will receive those alerts. Android users will not receive any notication.
     
    iOS will notify a possible following AirTag
    iOS will notify a possible following AirTag
    Rent a motorbike today to not worry about bike theft

    At AloRide, you can rent a motorcycle as low as $45 per day, or $330 per month to try motorcycling in Singapore. No commitment hassle of long-term motorbike ownership.

    Rent a motorbike with AloRide today. Check out our catalog at https://aloride.com/catalog.