Tagged items would appear as AR balloons floating throughout the real world.
According to reports by MacRumors, Apple is currently in development of a Bluetooth beacon device that allows iOS and watchOS users to track their personal belongings using AR navigation. Similar to the Tile accessory trackers, Apple’s Bluetooth tags can supposedly be secured to physical items—such as wallets, bags, keychains, and a variety of other valuables, and tracked using a companion app operated via a paired iOS or watchOS device.
Based on a photo obtained by MacRumors, the tracker is a sleek, thin, disk-shaped device with the Apple logo engraved at the center. As stated by the publication, the image—found hidden inside an internal build of the yet-to-be-released iOS 13 update—could simply be a temporary “mock-up or placeholder,” although a similar-looking asset recently discovered by 9to5Mac does add further credence.
MacRumors’ latest report claims the platform will feature support for AR navigation, allowing iOS users to locate their lost items with more ease than competing tracker devices. Digging deeper into the iOS internal build, MacRumors discovered an ARkit “star” icon hidden within the ‘Find My’ app bundle, as well as assets for a 3D red balloon and 2D orange balloon accompanied by the following instructions:
“Walk around several feet and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes into view.” In this scenario, users would locate their missing item by following a 3D icon layered over the real world using their iOS device; an approach similar to that of Pixie Tracker, an ARKit-based tracking experience that debuted back in 2017.
The report goes on to state that a string of code found in the upcoming release indicates that users will be able to “leash” their tracker-enabled items to iOS and watchOS devices in order to receive notifications when the items are out of range of their paired devices. So while users would be unable to track their items once they moved beyond their accepted range, they’d still receive one final warning before losing reception; a useful feature for anyone with a habit of leaving their phone behind.
Other features stated in the report include a new “item” tab that allows you to keep track of your paired items via your iOS or watchOS device, a removable battery that sends a final location update prior to death, a background mode referred to as “Search Party” that periodically emits and receives Bluetooth beacon signals from all nearby iOS 13 devices in order to relay the location of offline items back to their original owners, as well as the ability to tag lost items with contact information, allowing other iPhone users who may happen upon them to contact their respective owners. There are also several code strings referring to a “Safe Location” mode which turns off certain notifications when items are left in specific areas.
It should be noted that all of the information provided above originates from a June build of iOS 13, which means everything is subject to change prior to the updates official release this Fall. Apple is holding a press event September 10th at Steve Jobs Theater, during which it’s widely speculated they’ll be unveiling the latest iPhone and Apple Watch models. It’s unknown at this point whether or not Apple’s Tile-competitor will also be making an appearance.
Featured Image Credit: MacRumors, Apple