Following reports that Apple’s AirTag key tracker was removed from shelves by a major Australian retailer over concerns with its button battery last month, the country's consumer watchdog has urged parents to keep the product away from children.
The official warning comes after Apple had added more explicit button battery warnings to its packaging in Australia, though the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it wasn’t enough to address its concerns with the product.
In a statement, the ACCC said it was concerned “about the accessibility and security of the button battery inside the product.” The consumer advocate says young children could access the battery compartment and remove the coin battery with ease.
“In addition, the AirTag battery compartment’s lid does not always secure fully on closing, and a distinctive sound plays when an AirTag’s lid is being closed, suggesting the lid is secure when it may not be,” said the ACCC.
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It’s not just the physical product that the consumer watchdog has taken issue with, as the ACCC has also critiqued the product’s warning labels.
“We were also concerned that the outer product packaging does not have any warning about the presence and dangers of button batteries, and we note that Apple has now added a warning label to the AirTag’s packaging,” said the ACCC’s Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard.
“However, this alone does not address our fundamental concerns about children being able to access the button batteries in these devices,” Rickard said.
The ACCC says it is also looking at similar Bluetooth tracking devices that use button batteries to determine their safety.
How Apple is responding
Apple has updated its AirTag packaging, and at least in Australia, the product will be sold as early as this week with a warning sticker on the box and instructions inside the box that detail the risks associated with coin batteries.
When reports first emerged that Australian retailer Officeworks had removed AirTags from sale, Apple issued a statement to TechRadar: “AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery.
"We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required.”
Apple has indeed updated its AirTag warnings well ahead of schedule, as the compliance deadline was set for June 2022. Though given the ACCC’s statement, this change has not addressed its concerns about the product's design.
The consumer watchdog says it has raised these safety concerns with Apple, and discussions around the AirTag are continuing.
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