AirTag, Apple’s technology that finds friends, objects and animals

Apple is working on an app that blends together Find Friends and Find iPhone. And there is, it will help you find everything else, thanks to a new product coming soon.

With iOS 13 and MacOS Catalina (coming very soon), Apple has launched a new app called Where to find friends, iPhone, iPad, Mac and AirPods; and soon, whatever else you want, including keys, animals and luggage, even if on standby or without an Internet connection. Thanks to a new trinket that could arrive already in the next few days and that already appears revolutionary: it will be called Apple Tag.

The device in question consists of a very small and compact battery-operated trinket, which stands on the fist of one hand, similar in functionality and appearance to the very Italian Filo Tracker (€ 29.90 on Amazon, including shipments) but connected to iCloud and above all based on the UWB protocol (read below). It’s a kind of smart keychain always connected to iPhone via Bluetooth, able to help you find lost objects / animals, or to report you in real time when you forget something on the street or steal it from you. With a little imagination, we can already see many of them hanging from the dog’s collar, the house keys or inside the suitcase at the airport.

Update: The latest Beta of iOS 13.2 reveals the name of the device in question: it should be Apple AirTag. A brand that also peeps out in a patent of 2018 headed to an anonymous Russian company called “Intelligent Systems of Business Control” and indirectly connected to Apple through the legal office Baker & McKenzie, with which the apple collaborates in different countries of the world .

However, the difference compared to all other gadgets of this kind will be abysmal and for two reasons:

Ultra-Wideband: Instead of WiFi and Bluetooth LE, which reach a maximum accuracy of 5 meters, the UWB protocol is able to locate an emitter with an accuracy of 5-10 centimeters. In practice, it means having the absolute certainty of finding something. Obviously, it is possible that Bluetooth LE will be implemented anyway, mostly to ensure compatibility with older devices than iPhone 11.

Millions of Sherlock Holmes: The apple can count on the spread of millions of iPhones and iPads scattered around the 4 corners of the globe that can act as a bridge to signal the presence of key rings. In this way, iPhones would create a worldwide network capable of identifying lost or stolen properties, a bit like Waze does with user reports or Google traffic. All obviously in a transparent and user-friendly way, so as to preserve privacy.

This works through a new background process called Search Party which continuously sends Bluetooth and UWB signals from the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch in circulation, as long as they have iOS 13 or MacOS Catalina installed. And it works even if the lost or stolen device is on standby and has no connectivity: in this case it enters “Dark Wake” mode to respond to Bluetooth requests.

Evidence of this novelty has been found in the iOS 13 code, in the form of a reference to a mysterious “Tag1,1”. “The first Beta of iSOS 13” writes Guilherme Rambo, “includes a resource package for a device called Tag1.1. This type of resources is used to match proximity devices, in the manner of AirPods and HomePod.”