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Apple’s location tracking tags can finally be launched later this year

After months of rumors and speculation, it appears that by the end of the year, Apple will produce tens of millions of ultra-broadband trackers (provisionally referred to as AirTags or Apple tags), possibly by the third quarter, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts (through 9to5Mac).

The existence of Apple Tags / AirTags was leaked by numerous stores last year. Images showed a Bluetooth tracker similar to Tile devices that would use the same ultra-broadband radios as Apple’s latest iPhone 11 phones and could be linked to a user’s iCloud account. The tags would make it easier to track lost items, such as keys, via the Find My app and would use the Offline Finding capabilities introduced in iOS 13, according to 9to5Mac. A short summary of some previous rumors about Apple Tags:

  • The tags will be according to both round discs 9to5Mac and MacRumors
  • The tags will probably be provided with the new U1 locator chip from Apple that is already in the iPhone 11
  • 3D balloons provide the visual clues to determine the location of lost objects, probably via an AR interface. “Walk around a few meters and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes into view,” according to a series of codes in the internal iOS 13 build.

When the tags would be available to the public remains unclear, but it is possible that they could be released during the iPhone event in September. As 9to5Mac points out that AirTags are a completely new product category and that Apple could choose to reveal them earlier – possibly during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is expected to take place somewhere in June.