Apple's wireless Tile-like tracking technology exposed in iOS 13 build

Posted:
in iOS edited August 30
More details relating to the rumored Tile-style 'tag' tracker accessory Apple is developing, with an allegedly leaked image from an internal build of iOS 13 suggesting the device will be circular, while its usage via the "Find My" app could include limiting notifications of misplacement to occasions where the user isn't at home.




Rumors of an Apple-produced tracker that works with the refreshed Find My app suggested Apple would move from just tracking lost Apple hardware, and into other items. "Tag" hardware references found in June were the first major indication of the item being real, and the prospect of adding Tile-like functionality to the app.

A leak of images published by MacRumors on Friday from what is believed to be an internal build of iOS 13 depicts the tag as a circle, with a central Apple logo. While it is plausible that this could be placeholder art ahead of the official launch of the accessory, there is a chance that it could genuinely be a circular badge-style item, possibly with a keyring element not shown in the image.

Other text snippets advise of the presence of a removable battery, which could be removed by unscrewing the back. Since the size of the tracker isn't revealed in the image, it is plausible it could be quite small, accepting a thin circular battery rather than a larger rechargeable unit.

The tag is believed to have the codename "B389," MacRumors reported on Friday afternoon, with text strings in the code indicating the nature of the accessory, such as "tag your everyday items with B389 and never lose them again."

The image of the 'tag' accessory within an internal build of iOS 13
The image of the 'tag' accessory within an internal build of iOS 13


It will work with the "Find My" app, which will have an "Items" tab, meant for tracking things that the tag is attached to.

Notifications will be provided to users if their iPhone is separated from the tagged item by an unspecified distance. In the case of nearby misplaced items, the app could be triggered to make the tag chime, allowing it to be found by sound.

A user can also designate "safe locations" that won't set off the notifications if the tagged device is left there, allowing it to be separated from the iPhone. For example, a gym bag could be left at home most of the time, but would need to be guarded when taken out of the house, so the tag would only be required for that limited situation.

Items like the "tag" could be put into a "Lost Mode," allowing other iPhone users to acquire contact details for its owner, in order to help getting the lost item back. When discovered by an iPhone, the owner will be notified it has been found.

Along with simple tracking, there also seems to be an augmented reality-style element to the app. When lost nearby, the app could give a view of the object's location, highlighting it with a red balloon on the screen.

The concept has been raised in patent applications, with the use of an indicator showing where something is within a room or a local environment.

While "Find My" is believed to be arriving as part of iOS 13's launch this fall, it is unclear when Apple will announce the "tag" product. It is possible, however, that Apple could be waiting until its September 10 iPhone event to unveil the unannounced product for the first time.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 173member
    So that's why they removed Tiles' possibility to track positions....
    edited August 30 caladanianelijahg
  • Reply 2 of 42
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,198member
    It would be a nice addition to the product range. I've always liked the idea of Tiles but been put off by price the of non
    battery replaceable units (since resolved but in the Pro version) so have no hands on experience with them. 

    If the product is real, I'm betting it will be cheaper than Tiles and more attractive proposition.
    edited August 30 lostkiwiseanjjahblade
  • Reply 3 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,270member
    Tile and Trackr are a great idea, but having to require other people with devices running those apps to have crowd locate was always a limiting factor (but I was often surprised where my Trackr pings were being picked up). With an Apple device this gets meshy is the best possible way.

    PS: Has anyone running the betas been able to get the new BT-based Find My devices to work? I still can only get it to work when online even with testing through multiple devices using macOS Catalina and iOS 13.
    caladanian
  • Reply 4 of 42
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,011member
    IreneW said:
    Do that's why they removed Tiles' possibility to track positions....

    Incorrect!

    They removed the “Always Allow” option in the permission dialog box, but the option still exists in location settings.
    caladanianStrangeDaysracerhomie3boxcatcherjahblade
  • Reply 5 of 42
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,011member

    Soli said:
    Tile and Trackr are a great idea, but having to require other people with devices running those apps to have crowd locate was always a limiting factor (but I was often surprised where my Trackr pings were being picked up). With an Apple device this gets meshy is the best possible way.

    Now that they’ve devised a fairly safe and secure method to track and report, makes me wonder if Apple will release an API for 3rd party tracking devices to use?

    It is basically a crowd-sourced iBeacon.
    edited August 30
  • Reply 6 of 42
    Too bad I can't retroactively use this to find my missing AirPods.
    donjuan
  • Reply 7 of 42
    orthorimorthorim Posts: 158member
    Too bad I can't retroactively use this to find my missing AirPods.
    AirPods already have the "find my" feature... just put 'em in lost mode in the app...
    StrangeDaysfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 42
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 64member
    avon b7 said:
    It would be a nice addition to the product range. I've always liked the idea of Tiles but been put off by price the of non
    battery replaceable units (since resolved but in the Pro version) so have no hands on experience with them. 

    If the product is real, I'm betting it will be cheaper than Tiles and more attractive proposition.
    For all the unknowns involved with this product, I think the one thing that is almost guaranteed is that it won’t be cheaper than Tile. More attractive? Definitely. But Apple doesn’t do cheaper. 
    StrangeDaysjensonbjahbladedesignrlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 42
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,198member
    Japhey said:
    avon b7 said:
    It would be a nice addition to the product range. I've always liked the idea of Tiles but been put off by price the of non
    battery replaceable units (since resolved but in the Pro version) so have no hands on experience with them. 

    If the product is real, I'm betting it will be cheaper than Tiles and more attractive proposition.
    For all the unknowns involved with this product, I think the one thing that is almost guaranteed is that it won’t be cheaper than Tile. More attractive? Definitely. But Apple doesn’t do cheaper. 
    We'll have to wait and see on that. Apple has the economies of scale in its favour and I was even thinking that getting one 'free' in an Apple Mac/iPad/iPhone purchase could lead to people wanting more (providing the price was right).
  • Reply 10 of 42
    Could it be integrated (or already is) in iOS and Mac devices so they could be tracked when powered off.  Tile could be an optional accessory, but probably more behind it...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Perfect example of Apple leveraging the size and standardization of its ecosystem to achieve value to the end-user that other company’s will be unable / find very difficult to replicate.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 42
    I might be too wishful, but if Apple allows us to carry a Tag on our bodies and then configure Apple Home to accurately turn HomeKit enabled lights on and off depending on where I am, then I could get rid of motion detectors and have a much more responsive smart home system. but that would be innovative and I'm not sure Apple is going to be innovative or just copy their competitors' dumb products here.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    Could it be integrated (or already is) in iOS and Mac devices so they could be tracked when powered off.  Tile could be an optional accessory, but probably more behind it...
    Yes, the capability for iOS and Mac was announced in a white-paper (which explained how the system safeguards privacy) by Apple itself.
    edited August 30 lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 42
    softekysofteky Posts: 133member
    Apple limited “Find iPhone’s” real-time tracking functionality some time ago. The “refresh” icon when a device has been located seems to do nothing now. Several minutes can pass before position is updated (if at all). The only way I’ve been able to prompt a current-location fetch is by force quitting “Find iPhone” and restarting it. Anyone else notice this?
    mobird
  • Reply 15 of 42
    I might be too wishful, but if Apple allows us to carry a Tag on our bodies and then configure Apple Home to accurately turn HomeKit enabled lights on and off depending on where I am, then I could get rid of motion detectors and have a much more responsive smart home system. but that would be innovative and I'm not sure Apple is going to be innovative or just copy their competitors' dumb products here.
    I thought most people used the phone in their pocket as the "body tag" to do this already.
  • Reply 16 of 42
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,018member
    avon b7 said:
    Japhey said:
    avon b7 said:
    It would be a nice addition to the product range. I've always liked the idea of Tiles but been put off by price the of non
    battery replaceable units (since resolved but in the Pro version) so have no hands on experience with them. 

    If the product is real, I'm betting it will be cheaper than Tiles and more attractive proposition.
    For all the unknowns involved with this product, I think the one thing that is almost guaranteed is that it won’t be cheaper than Tile. More attractive? Definitely. But Apple doesn’t do cheaper. 
    We'll have to wait and see on that. Apple has the economies of scale in its favour and I was even thinking that getting one 'free' in an Apple Mac/iPad/iPhone purchase could lead to people wanting more (providing the price was right).
    Apple doesn’t do ‘free’ hardware. I’m waiting for the $99 iTile Pro.

    /s
  • Reply 17 of 42
    I might be too wishful, but if Apple allows us to carry a Tag on our bodies and then configure Apple Home to accurately turn HomeKit enabled lights on and off depending on where I am, then I could get rid of motion detectors and have a much more responsive smart home system. but that would be innovative and I'm not sure Apple is going to be innovative or just copy their competitors' dumb products here.
    Highly accurate, passive sensing is a non-trivial challenge with relatively low ROI.

    Personally, I’m hoping that Apple Glasses integrate with HomeKit to flip the calculus here — instead of sensors deducing where you are in your house and controlling lights/etc., you (via your glasses) determine if/what devices need to be turned on.

    Walk into a room that’s dark because it’s a cloudy day? Glasses figure out which room and turn on lights.

    Need to turn on a light? Look at it and say, “Hey Siri, turn that light on” ... and glasses figure out which light you’re referring to
  • Reply 18 of 42
    mobirdmobird Posts: 273member
    I might be too wishful, but if Apple allows us to carry a Tag on our bodies and then configure Apple Home to accurately turn HomeKit enabled lights on and off depending on where I am, then I could get rid of motion detectors and have a much more responsive smart home system. but that would be innovative and I'm not sure Apple is going to be innovative or just copy their competitors' dumb products here.
    Highly accurate, passive sensing is a non-trivial challenge with relatively low ROI.

    Personally, I’m hoping that Apple Glasses integrate with HomeKit to flip the calculus here — instead of sensors deducing where you are in your house and controlling lights/etc., you (via your glasses) determine if/what devices need to be turned on.

    Walk into a room that’s dark because it’s a cloudy day? Glasses figure out which room and turn on lights.

    Need to turn on a light? Look at it and say, “Hey Siri, turn that light on” ... and glasses figure out which light you’re referring to
    As you bump, trip, and fall over the furniture in the dark. ;)
    edited August 30 pscooter63
  • Reply 19 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,106member
    I've bought several Tiles over the past few years.

    While initially impressed I ended up disenchanted with the original ones for two reasons: Had to replace them roughly once a year, and I didn't find I needed them as often as I would have thought. That still didn't prevent me from buying four of the Pro version with replaceable batteries when they came out. Don't know why I thought I'd be any more impressed because I still didn't put them to use more than a handful of times. In fact I accidently activated them and sent a finder signal to my phone more often than I needed to find a misplaced Tile'd item. 

    Time to replace the batteries now but not sure I'll bother. They're smallish but not small enough, kinda get in the way on the keyring, and too large to play well on a remote or earbud charging case. Great idea but.... 
    edited August 30 dewmemuthuk_vanalingamcaladanian
  • Reply 20 of 42
    Everything I might lose (iPhone, AirPods, iPad) are already covered. It’s my glasses that are always getting lost. If only it was small enough for that! Or thin enough not to make a giant bulging disc in my minimalist wallet. 
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