Apple still does not launch its AirTags, but opens the Find third-party app
With this solution, Apple opens up to other companies the possibility of lost products that have been linked to a company device
Anyone who has lost an iPhone or AirPods knows the Find app. It is present in all Apple products and allows you to find lost Apple products, block them if they have been stolen or know the exact location of a family member or friend who has given their authorization to do so.
From now on, this application will also allow you to find third-party objects compatible with the Find My certification program, which Apple announced last June 2020. A new tab, Objects, will be used to register and locate these accessories.
These objects communicate their position using a Bluetooth chip, not using a GPS, but it is still possible to find them when they are lost thanks to a distributed system and they work even if these products do not have an internet connection.
ENCRYPTED AND ANONYMOUS
All recent Apple devices – a network that numbers hundreds of millions of products around the world – will function as “sensors” capable of detecting the signal they emit when they are separated from the phone to which they are paired. This signal is weak and consumes little power, but it allows a passing phone or tablet to detect it and automatically notify the owner.
The detection system is fully encrypted. Neither Apple nor any other user will be able to know that your phone has detected a missing object or its position. Only the owner will receive the notification. As you approach the device, you can request an alarm to sound to make it easier to locate it.
Apple currently only contemplates devices with a Bluetooth chip in the program, but in the future it will also allow to certify objects with UWB chips, a new system specifically designed for localization that is already present in the brand’s phones, and with which it is possible to obtain a much more accurate position signal.
This search system also allows you to expand some of the protection features of the devices. for example, you can disable the ability to pair with a new phone so that if someone finds it, they cannot steal it.
The accessories manufacturer Belkin, the VanMoof bicycle brand or the Chipolo company, which will manufacture the first smart tags compatible with Search, the size of a keychain, will be some of the first brands with compatible products.
Apple, however, has included some protection systems to prevent objects from being used as continuous tracking sensors for a person (for example, by sliding one of Chipolo’s smart tags inside a bag or backpack). If an iPhone detects that a lost device is always close to it, it will notify the owner that they may be monitoring its location. Since the serial number of the labels is associated with a specific Apple account, it will be possible to identify who is trying this strategy.
Apple released the new Find My app last year as a combination of Find My iPhone and Find My Friends, which were previously separate apps. The new interface combines all search functions in a single app.
The move was considered a first step in a strategy that will include in the future the launch of its own labels, known as Airtags, which will work like those presented today with Chipolo, but with UWB compatibility.
Despite the rumors, and the fact that internal references to this product have been found in various versions of the brand’s operating systems, for now Apple has not launched any product of its own with which to take advantage of these new localization functions.