Apple tracking tags might be far easier to find than Tile

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Tile has helped people find their car keys for years, and the newest version lets your Tile battery be easily replaced.
Tile makes the best items trackers available today, but that might change soon.
Photo: Tile

The item-tracking tags Apple is expected to unveil next week will have ultra-wideband radio technology, according to a reliable analyst. This will make them much more accurate than rival trackers like Tile that depend on Bluetooth to measure distance.

Ultra-wideband beats Bluetooth

As its name suggests, Ultra-wideband (UWB) transmissions broadcast a radio signal across a broad swath of the radio spectrum. It can be used for tracking items, with the distance between the sender and receiver being determined with great accuracy. In addition, UWB travels well through walls.

Apple will employ this tech in item-tracking tags, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst from TF International Securities with a long history of accurate Apple predictions.

Rivals like Tile use the strength of a Bluetooth signal to measure distance between the user and the item-tracking tag. This isn’t always accurate, as signal strength varies by more than distance — objects can interfere, making items report that they are farther away than they really are.

Apple getting into the tracking market

iOS 13 includes a new application called Find My that shows the location of friends and family alongside tracking misplaced iPhones and iPads. Buried in the code for this upcoming version are references to a new Items tag.

This will reportedly allow users to order a tracking tag to play a sound, making the device easier to find. But that’s just the start. The software will apparently use augmented reality to place a virtual balloon at the exact location of a misplaced item. The accuracy of UWB would really come in handy here.

The Find My app can also supposedly notify the user if they get too far away from a tagged item.

Via MacRumors