Tile to launch new ultra-wideband tracker as Apple preps AirTags

Tile is preparing to introduce a new product this year that will take advantage of UWB (ultra wideband) technology as Apple prepares to launch their long-expected AirTags, TechCrunch reports. Current Tile trackers use Bluetooth to help users locate lost items, but the company’s new product will take advantage of UWB (ultra-wideband) technology to find the missing items. Apple’s AirTags are also expected to use ultra-wideband tech, which is included in iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models.

Apple AirTag
Apple’s tag image asset in iOS 13 code
Sarah Perez for TechCrunch:

Like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, UWB is a short-range, wireless communication protocol, but one that operates at very high frequencies. It can be used to capture spatial and directional data, which is where it comes in handy to lost-item finders, like Tile’s trackers.

Apple last year began to give third-party developers access to its U1 chip, which uses UWB technology to make the iPhone spatially aware, via its “NearbyInteraction” framework.

It’s unclear to what extent Tile is using the new frameworks with its forthcoming product, and the company is likely under NDA with regard to its work with Apple specifically, per earlier reports.

The Tile app, meanwhile, will allow users to launch to an AR-enabled camera view that will help to guide them to the item’s location using overlays, like directional arrows and an AR view of the item’s location.

According to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will reveal its own Tile competitor, AirTags this year.

MacDailyNews Take: Tile faces a losing battle against Apple in the coveted iOS device demographic once AirTags debut as Apple’s offering will be seamless and likely take advantage of Apple’s hard-won installed base of 1+ billion devices, a healthy portion of which will be UWB-equipped.

Again, we’d expect to see AirTags arrive by the end of Q1 if not sooner, but the more people (with Apple devices) out and about, the better AirTags will work, so Apple has to deal with COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions affecting AirTags’ performance which may delay launch.


  1. Tile or Air Tags; Jill doesn’t really care, but she’s likely buying Tile as she needs a solution for finding Joe when they move in the White House in Feb. Air Tags could be used later to keep tabs on his shoes, glasses and wallet, etc.

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