Apple accidentally confirms the AirTags name for its tracking accessory
Yesterday we told you that there was speculation about when Apple might finally unveil its Apple AirTags item tracker. The latest rumor has the AirTags being announced during the online version of WWDC. As you might know, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced Apple to move its annual developers conference to the internet although it has yet to release a date for it to be streamed. Since this is a whole new product category for the company, Apple would prefer to have it introduced and demonstrated by a company executive online instead of merely issuing a press release
One analyst expects 10 million AirTags to be produced this year
Throughout last summer, there was a strong sense that Apple would announce the tags at its annual September iPhone event, and when it wasn't, many figured that the project had been 86'd. But leaked images soon made it apparent that the AirTags project was still alive. AirTags are said to be circular tags with a removable battery that can be attached to items such as a keychain, a pet collar, bicycle, luggage, and more. Heck, it can even be used to track an untrustworthy spouse.
Apple accidentally confirms the AirTags name in a video it took down after 15 minutes
The AirTags will work in conjunction with the Find My app and will rely on the U1 ultra wideband, or UWB chip that was quietly included with the 2019 iPhone models. The chip sends out short distance radio waves using Time of Flight; these radio waves bounce off the subject and return to the phone to help deliver a more precise location where a missing item might be found. The chip might also be used with the CarKey feature expected to arrive in iOS 14; CarKey will allow an iPhone user to open his/her car door and start the engine remotely with the phone. UWB can reportedly locate a tagged item within four inches of its actual location.
According to AppleInsider, a video that Apple left on the internet today for 15 minutes before removing (it received 1,500 views) revealed that the accessory will indeed be called AirTags. The video was created to show iPhone users how to wipe their handset (and we don't mean wiping with an antibiotic cleaner). In the video, we can see a menu with a section called "Enable Offline Finding." Under that listing, it reads, "Offline finding enables this device and AirTags to be found when not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular," So this pretty much confirms the AirTags name.This also confirms the use of the USB U1 chip for the tracking system.
A string of code discovered last year revealed some directions for finding a tagged item using AirTags. The code said, "Walk around several feet and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes into view." Leaked images showed a 3D red balloon and a 2D orange balloon that will apparently surface when an AirTags user moves closer to a tagged item. If an item is missing, the tag it is connected to can be put in "Lost Mode." With this setting enabled, an iPhone user who stumbles across the tag will be able to send an iMessage to the owner to work out a way to send the missing item back to its rightful owner.
Earlier this year, reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo called for the AirTags to be unveiled during the second or third quarter of this year. At this point, it would appear that he is going to be correct. He also forecasts that 10 million AirTags will be produced before the end of this year.