Here's what Apple's new U1 chip in the iPhone 11 & iPhone 11 Pro does

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in iPhone
Apple's new U1 Ultra Wideband chip is in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro family. Here's what it is, and what it does, and how it will help you.

Apple's iPhone 11, one of the devices with Apple's new U1 chip
Apple's iPhone 11, one of the devices with Apple's new U1 chip


The new Apple-designed U1 chip uses what's called Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness. Ultra Wideband (UWB) has been rumored to be arriving in the iPhone for most of 2019, and will greatly help with pinpoint location of iBeacons for interior navigation, finding other iPhones or future iPads with a U1 chip, AirDrop recipient selection, augmented reality image location, and similar uses.

What is Ultra Wideband?

UWB was once proposed as part of a personal area network, and was in a draft standard for a while after the turn of the century. Time, and Bluetooth, progressed, and the concept was ultimately shelved.

Bluetooth 5.1 has location detection and range-finding, but UWB is more precise and uses a slightly different technology for detection. Data can be contained in a UWB pulse, which is likely what Apple is using to identify AirDrop recipients.

UWB are universally short-range applications, given the low power and short duration of the pulses used in the technology. Unlike some wireless technologies, walls are not really an issue for UWB location and direction-finding.

Not quite fully realized yet

Most of the big-ticket features of the U1 are coming in iOS 13.1, and not with iOS 13 that will likely ship on the new iPhones. The improved AirDrop with direction awareness and suggestions on who to beam a file to arrives in that version of the operating system.

The technology will likely enhance the "Find My" app in the future, and interior navigation and Maps enhancements are obvious. We'd mentioned the device tracker rumors earlier -- and that seems like an obvious use as well, given the removal of the word "iPhone" from the "Find My" app title.

Apple has high hopes for the U1. In Tuesday's event that saw the debut of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, Apple says that not only is it the first UWB installation on a smartphone, but it will also add new features to the iPhone -- and it is only just the beginning of what Apple has in mind for the technology.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    Thanks! Was looking for info on that - saw it on the slide.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Very happy about this - if it allows my smart home to more accurately track where I am in the home. However I would much prefer the rumoured "Apple Tag" on my person than an iOS device. I infer that since iOS 13.1 won't be available for a little while yet, which contains the UWB technology, that's why the Apple Tag couldn't be announced today.

    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,337member
    Very happy about this - if it allows my smart home to more accurately track where I am in the home. 

    I wonder if the new Apple Watch has it too...
    christophbronnlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    docno42 said:
    Very happy about this - if it allows my smart home to more accurately track where I am in the home. 

    I wonder if the new Apple Watch has it too...
    That would be primo. 
    docno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,968administrator
    docno42 said:
    Very happy about this - if it allows my smart home to more accurately track where I am in the home. 

    I wonder if the new Apple Watch has it too...
    That would be primo. 
    It does not appear to at this time. We'll let you know, though.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Strange that they didn’t present the tags as a “one more thing”. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    My only issue during the keynote when demonstrating "Quick Take" the person was holding the iPhone vertically. WTF Apple, are you Samsung or Google? Turn iPhone to landscape for video!!!!!!
    lollivermuthuk_vanalingamuraharaspace2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    Strange that they didn’t present the tags as a “one more thing”. 
    My guess is that they weren't ready at the last minute.
    chasmlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    I can easily see this tech start being built into everything. Becoming a standard in just about every product that has Bluetooth or WiFi. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    My only issue during the keynote when demonstrating "Quick Take" the person was holding the iPhone vertically. WTF Apple, are you Samsung or Google? Turn iPhone to landscape for video!!!!!!
    I find it strange that they introduced the new feature as Quick Take. Did they forget that Apple already had a product called QuickTake from 1994?
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,672unconfirmed, member
    Thank you!

    This was the most curious feature for me and they didn't explain it. Every time Apple invents a new chip it's a big deal.

    I've mentioned this months ago. Apple should invent a precise tracker that can be installed in every device from HomePods, Macs to each AirPod. Imagine looking for a lost AirPod and instead of Find My giving you a rough estimate within 20 feet it tells you exactly where the lost item is?

    I once used Find My iPhone to look for my iPod. It said it was in my yard on the side of the house but I knew I lost it inside so the closest thing was the living room couch. Sure enough. it was under my couch. Now imagine Find My telling me it was under my couch with accuracy within 1 foot?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,291member
    Isn't there a rumoured October event to come? Third generation Air Pods, new Mac, tags and more?
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