AirTag Removable Battery Sparks Child Safety Concerns
More than a week following their international debut, Apple's AirTag item tracker is now facing child safety concerns about its replaceable battery.
AirTags feature a standard replaceable CR2032 coin-cell battery that Apple says can power an AirTag for an entire year. The battery in an AirTag can be removed by pushing down and twisting the AirTag's back-plate, a fairly straightforward and easy process.
However, the easy battery replacement process has prompted concerns that a child could access the battery and potentially pose a safety risk to themselves. As reported by Gizmodo, concerns are high enough to have caused major Australian retailer Officeworks to temporarily pull AirTags from its shelves.
The retailer hasn't confirmed the exact reason, although the report notes that multiple Reddit users have said that an Officeworks representative confirmed the retailer's concerns over child safety.
"Staff at the counter could see on their system that they had some in stock, and one staff member even remembered selling them on Friday, but they couldn’t find them today," the user wrote in a post.
They went onto say that an Officeworks representative told them that the AirTags were removed due to safety concerns, specifically regarding how easy it is for the button-cell battery to be removed by a child.
Furthermore, in a statement given to Gizmodo, Apple preemptively confirmed that the battery replacement process is at the center of the retail chain's decision to pull AirTags from its shelf temporarily.
"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," an Apple representative said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
"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."
Officeworks says that AirTags will stay off its shelves until "further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission," which happens to be the same authority currently investigating Apple over claims of anti-competitive market behavior.
Australian regulations require that any consumer good that features a battery compartment that's accessible to the consumer, whether or not the battery is intended to be replaced, must "be designed to ensure the compartment is resistant to being opened by young children." Regulations also state that the battery compartment must feature "screws or similar fasteners used to secure the door."
AirTags don't feature any screws visible to the consumer. However, to access the battery compartment, the user must first press down and twist the back plate. So, while there are definite concerns, it's unlikely AirTags violates any direct regulatory clause. Instead, it's likely that a lack of clarity regarding how Apple's AirTags fit with the existing regulations has caused the retailer to pull them.