What just happened? Apple's interest in developing a tracking device that you can stick to items like your keys or briefcase has been leaked enough at this point that its existence is almost a foregone conclusion. However, Apple may have just accidentally confirmed the gadget in a support video for iOS.
We have heard hints over the last year that Apple has been working on a tracker-like device similar to Tile key fobs. The first was last April when the company merged Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into one app. In June, evidence of it appeared in the source code of an iOS 13 beta build. Then in January of this year, renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo mentioned that a tracking device was in the works. However, Apple never confirmed any of these rumors.
On Friday morning, Appleosophy spotted a video posted by Apple on its support pages confirming the existence of a device the company is calling "AirTags." The clip was evidently posted on accident as it has since been removed.
The recording showed the Find My iPhone settings screen (above). Not only does it clearly list the AirTags name, but it also confirms that it will be capable of offline tracking.
"Offline finding enables this device and AirTags to be found when not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular," says the description under the "Enable Offline Finding" setting.
This discovery seems to validate that the tracker will be equipped with the U1 chip found in iPhone 11, which uses Ultra-Wideband technology to ping surrounding devices for more accurate location data. AirTags will likely use the same technique to tell Find My where it is.
So Apple has inadvertently outed AirTags as coming soon. If the other rumors hold, users will be able to use an augmented reality interface on their iPhone or iPad to find their AirTags, even if there is no WiFi or cellular connection available.
Since there is already a video showing the AirTags in the settings of iOS, it would not be surprising to hear Apple come forward with a formal announcement in the coming months.
Masthead credit: MichaelJayBerlin