Image source: 9to5Mac

Apple accidentally confirms existence of personal items tracking AirTags

We’ve heard rumours Apple is working on a personal items tracker called AirTags for a number of months now. It seems these efforts will soon come to fruition.

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There have been a number of leaks so far but the biggest one of all comes from Apple itself. In a video titled “How to erase your iPhone” (which has subsequently been removed), the Cupertino outfit refers to Airtags by name. Here’s a screenshot (via Appleosophy).

apple personal items tracking device airtags to launch in q3 - Apple accidentally confirms existence of personal items tracking AirTags

The pic shows in disable Find My iPhone settings screen, there’s an option called “Enable Offline Finding”. Read the description in small print underneath and you’ll find the reference to AirTags.

This is the first time Apple has confirmed the existence of the Tile-like device, albeit by accident. This is reportedly a tracker you’ll be able to attach to pretty much anything to monitor its location. It beams notifications to the user if they move too far away from it.

According to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest note to investors, Apple will release a slew of devices in 2020 that go beyond to the usual iPhones, iPads and MacBook upgrades. This includes high-end headphones, a small wireless charging mat and the Ultra Wideband tags. AirTags will probably be introduced in the third quarter of this year. It’s worth mentioning, that his prediction in January was we could see them in Q2.

Apparently, Apple’s supply chain partners have started preparations on manufacturing tens of millions of units in 2020. If his latest prediction is accurate, AirTags will probably launch alongside the iPhone 12 series and Apple Watch 6 in September. If not, there could be a chance they might see the light of day at WWDC 2020 in June.

A reference to the Tile-like device was spotted by eagle eyed folks at 9to5Mac noticed in the October 2019 iOS 13.2 update. An earlier beta version of the code even gave us a glimpse into what the device will look like. You can see the render pictured above. It comes in the form of a small, flat circular device that you’ll be able clip to your bag or other item preventing you from losing them.

The tags will reportedly be fitted with Apple’s ultra-wideband U1 locator chip that was first implemented in the iPhone 11. They will communicate via iCloud to the new Find My service to guide the user to within inches of the item. Kuo says they will work with greater accuracy than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi.

Devices can be put in “lost mode” or made to play a sound. In lost mode, the tag will be able to piggyback on any smartphone in its vicinity via a Bluetooth connection and send its location to the rightful owner. The company obviously wants to take advantage of the enormous ecosystem of Apple products to form a sort of a crowd-like network. Contact location saved in the tag would be accessible to any Apple device.

The software will also allow users to add locations that should be ignored. That way they can leave items where they are safe without being bothered by unnecessary alerts. Whats more they’ll be able to share Apple Tag’s location with family and friends.

App screenshots come courtesy of MacRumors. They found code in the iOS 13 that shows the “Me” tab in the Find My app replaced with an “Items” tab.

Tap on the tab and you’ll get a message “Keep track of your everyday items. Tag your everyday items with B389 and never lose them again.” The B389 moniker is Apple’s internal codename for the Tags as revealed previously.

apple s personal items tracking device to be called airtag - Apple accidentally confirms existence of personal items tracking AirTags
Image source: MacRumours

All of these leaks make it pretty much a certainty the Tag is in the works and probably close to seeing the light of day. We should get more info in the weeks and months ahead.

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