Kuo: 'Apple Tags' to Feature Ultra-Wideband Technology, Likely Far More Precise Than Tile's Trackers


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Last week, MacRumors revealed new details about Apple's upcoming Tile competitor, with internal iOS 13 code suggesting that Apple plans to release small, circular "tags" that can be attached to electronic devices, backpacks, keys, and other personal belongings to keep track of their locations.

Apple Tags concept by MacRumors

Now, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has thrown his weight behind this rumor. In a research note with TF International Securities today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said he expects Apple's tags to feature ultra-wideband or "UWB" technology. As he has said previously, Kuo also expects all three 2019 iPhones to support UWB.

Ultra-wideband is a short-range, low-power radio technology that is able to provide more precise indoor positioning than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi, suggesting that Apple's tags will be more accurate at pinpointing the location of lost items than Tile's current item trackers, which rely on Bluetooth LE.

The distance between two UWB devices -- such as an upcoming iPhone and Apple Tag -- can be measured precisely by calculating the time that it takes for a radio wave to pass between the two devices, according to Electronic Design, which notes that UWB is up to 100× more accurate than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi:
In practice, UWB signals are able to effectively measure distance between two devicesNo with 5- to 10-cm accuracy, compared to roughly 5-m accuracy for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When implemented in a system of fixed beacons tracking tag locations, the locations can be calculated to within 10-cm accuracy.
It is unclear if Apple's tags will rely solely on UWB, which would seemingly limit their compatibility to 2019 and newer iPhones, or if they will also incorporate Bluetooth LE for use with older devices.

Last week, MacRumors revealed that Apple's tags will be closely integrated with the new "Find My" app in iOS 13, which merged the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps into one package. Specifically, Apple has been working on an "Items" tab in the app for tracking the location of Apple-tagged items.

iPhone users will receive a notification when they are separated from a tagged item, according to an internal version of the "Find My" app obtained by MacRumors. If necessary, users can then tap a button in the app that will cause Apple's tag to chime to help them locate the lost item.

"Safe Locations" can be set where the user will not be notified if this item is left in those locations, and users will also be able to share the location of items with friends and family members, based on internal iOS 13 code.

If users are unable to find an item, they can place the attached tag into a "Lost Mode." Then, if another iPhone user comes across the lost item, the owner will be instantly notified. The stranger will also be presented with the owner's contact information, possibly via push notification or in the Find My app.

Like the Pixie Tracker, the Find My app will likely incorporate functionality from Apple's ARKit platform. An internal build of iOS 13 includes an asset for a 3D red balloon that could help a user pinpoint a lost item after scanning a room with their iPhone. There's also an image of a 2D orange balloon.

"Walk around several feet and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes into view," a string in the internal Find My app bundle reads.

Apple is hosting an event at Steve Jobs Theater next Tuesday, where it is widely expected to unveil new iPhone and Apple Watch models. It certainly seems like development of Apple's tags has reached an advanced stage, but it is unclear if the product will be introduced at the keynote or later.

Article Link: Kuo: 'Apple Tags' to Feature Ultra-Wideband Technology, Likely Far More Precise Than Tile's Trackers


macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2019
Good that  is doing this because as a long-time Tile user, I've had it.
Just yesterday, Tile proved that I am wasting my money on their sub-par setup. It used to be good, but honestly, I can't wait to get rid of them now.

Wife lost her keys while shopping. Do you think Tile had even "seen" her keys (with Tile Pro) in the last two days, even though they're in the same purse? No - big fat NO.

So, bring it on  - I can't wait.


macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2004
Sing me up as long as I don't have to change them every other year, like the Tiles one... and as long as there is not an annual crazy price for the service.
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macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
This sounds really cool, nice Apple, really nice. If this pans out, Apple will sell a ton of them.

Beautiful use of AR as well. Hopefully this'll work phone to phone as well when I'm trying to find my wife's phone with the balloon floating over it when we try to find it.

The mock up's do look like Apple branded Idli's which are a food from India.
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macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2014
National Capital Region
How much are we betting that the batteries are not user replaceable?
Dude, absolutely, you would be batting 100%.

To sprinkle sugar on top of the tiles, I expect Cook to mastermind a "Tile-Pro service", laden with annual-subscription fees, and monetize these tiles beyond the simplistic, one-time-purchase-and-done model.

Just my wild guess.


macrumors 6502a
Mar 11, 2012
I am hoping for a couple of different versions. maybe a small sticky disposable cheap version with a smaller battery, and then a larger sticky cheap version with a larger battery and finally a large keychain friendly version.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2008
As much as I’ve tried to resist I must admit that Apple will officially have me (+ fam) in a full Nelson with no hope of escaping their ecosystem if these come out and work very well. I’m not going to feign resistance anymore.

And to think it all started with the purchase of the first iPod and then an early 00’s MB.


macrumors 601
Apr 2, 2008
New York.
Still gonna be a boring useless iPhone event huh? [Sarcasm] Apple ain’t perfect, but they sure know how to make money.


macrumors newbie
Oct 4, 2010
How much are we betting that the batteries are not user replaceable?
There’s a part of me hoping these are rechargeable, with a usb-c port. I’m trying to think of the cons associated with this (e.g. not waterproof), but I assume my Tile devices aren’t either (haven’t checked).


macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2019
I am hoping for a couple of different versions. maybe a small sticky disposable cheap version with a smaller battery, and then a larger sticky cheap version with a larger battery and finally a large keychain friendly version.
Indeed! I don't mind the Tile model, but I do mind the devolution of the app and performance, as well as the "new" alerts subscription. Forget it, Tile. They never work when I need them since updating to all new Pro's this past January. It feels like Google or Amazon owns them now as they suck.


macrumors newbie
Oct 4, 2010
You will still be able to use the Apple tiles with older phones, just without UWB.
Do you think they will force or allow opt-in of the “community” aspect to find devices? This would be great if anyone with iOS 13 was silently pinging these devices and securely sharing the location so an owner could locate their device.

The saturation of iOS users would likely mean its never out of range and always able to be located.
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Northern Man

macrumors 68000
Aug 25, 2013
There obviously is a market for such a product but what I find surprising is that some people seem to lose things a lot or are afraid they will lose something.
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macrumors member
Oct 31, 2008
Central PA
I thought I remember seeing, last week, some code that Rambo found regarding changing the battery on these...not saying it will come to fruition though.

Best case scenario, these are cost-friendly, rechargeable...however, I am expecting them to be expensive, perhaps even some sort of subscription service and not able to switch the battery.

Maybe something along the lines of paying a monthly service fee and you get the service, and when the battery gets low, you send it in and Apple sends you a new unit.
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