AirTag may finally be getting closer, since a Safari trick exposes the ‘Items’ portion of the Find My app that’s not for Apple devices or people.
There’s a hidden reference to Apple‘s ultra-wideband location beacon, the AirTag, that’s accessible from any iPhone and iPad with a current version of the operating system. The AirTag has been popping up in leaks and rumors since 2019 and many expected the devices to appear in 2020. Perhaps, 2021 will finally be the right time for the elusive Apple product to be announced.
Apple includes a handy location tracking system that works with many of its devices, called Find My. The app comes pre-installed on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Once it’s set up, Find My can locate a misplaced or stolen device or assist someone else with finding a missing Apple device. The Find My app can also locate family, friends and contacts, but only if the feature is enabled. An Apple device owner can ask to follow or get directions to someone else’s location by using their contact information. As usual, Apple took care with the privacy settings so nothing is shared unless agreed upon.
Since one of the most obvious uses of AirTags is as location beacons, it makes sense that Apple would use the existing Find My app in conjunction with this rumored product. An Apple device owner recently discovered a hint that the AirTag may be getting closer to being announced, as there is an odd reference to finding items such as keys, luggage, or a bicycle. The Tweet by Shihab explains how to locate this otherwise hidden information, which simply requires the user to type “find my://items” into a Safari browser on an iPhone or iPad that has Find My set up. This triggers the device to open the Find My app and takes it to an ‘Items’ screen that cannot be found directly. In the bottom right, the three icons show that Apple intends to allow users to find items other than Apple devices at some point in the future.
What Is An AirTag?
The AirTag has been leaked and rumored for over a year. Apple even filed patent applications about the varied uses of these small devices. Accessory manufacturers have even designed holders for them, even though Apple hasn’t publicly confirmed their existence. While various styles of AirTag may appear eventually, the first style expected to be announced is about the size of a bottle cap. The devices are said to be based on ultra-wideband technology. As such, an AirTag will be able to be located with heading and range by any device that contains an Apple U1 chip. That means the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, Apple Watch Series 6 and HomePod mini will know where AirTags are within a certain range.
At the time the AirTag first leaked, it was somewhat unique. Samsung included ultra-wideband technology in its Galaxy Note 20 and launched SmartThings Find. Its tracker tags are also expected to arrive soon. Which company will enter the market first is unknown, but it seems clear that this could be a year of new technology to find misplaced or stolen items. Apple’s patent application noted that its ultra-wideband tags could also provide orientation data, meaning the angle of the device could be read, as well as the three-dimensional location within an area. With six-degrees of information available, the AirTag may have uses in virtual or augmented reality gaming, as well as medical use for range of motion testing and therapy. The diminutive AirTag has enormous potential, if and when Apple finally gets around to making the announcement.
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