Exclusive: Apple's Tile Competitor Will Include 'Items' Tab in iOS 13's Find My App and Much More
Apple is developing a Tile-like accessory that will help users keep track of their personal belongings, such as their keys, wallets, and backpacks, according to an internal build of iOS 13 seen by MacRumors.
The internal build contains an image of the accessory that suggests it will be a small, circular tag with an Apple logo in the center, similar to many other Bluetooth trackers. The image could be a mockup or placeholder, however, so the final design of the tag may vary at least slightly.
This image looks similar to one shared by 9to5Mac's Guilherme Rambo, who was first to reveal Apple's plans for this product in April.
MacRumors can confirm the tags are codenamed "B389" within Apple, and there are many strings that are a dead giveaway as to what this product's purpose will be, such as "tag your everyday items with B389 and never lose them again."
The tags will be closely integrated with the new Find My app in iOS 13, which merged Apple's previous Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps into one. While not available in public betas of iOS 13, the internal build contains a new "Items" tab in the Find My app for tracking the location of personal belongings.
Users will receive a notification when they are separated from a tagged item, according to strings in the internal Find My app bundle. If necessary, users can then tap a button in the Find My app that will cause Apple's tag to start emitting an audible chime to help 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 iOS 13 strings.
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, they will be able to view contact info for the item's owner and contact them by phone or text message. Perhaps the stranger will be alerted with a Find My notification on their iPhone when they have found a lost item. The item's owner will also be notified.
After digging further into the code, we remain confident that augmented reality will play a role in Apple's item tracking feature.
Like the Pixie Tracker, the Find My app will likely incorporate functionality from Apple's ARKit platform. The 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.
There are also strings that suggest Apple's tags will be equipped with a removable battery, which would likely be a button cell, aka the small, circular batteries found in many watches and the latest Tile trackers. A low battery warning appears to prompt the tag to send a final location of the item it is attached to.
"Unscrew the back of the item and remove the battery," another string in the internal Find My app bundle reads.
While we were not able to proceed any further with the "Items" tab, it should be similar to the "Devices" tab in the Find My app, with a map at the top and a list of items at the bottom. It is possible the "Me" tab will be relocated to an avatar hovering over the map, although there could simply end up being four tabs.
Here's the image that should appear in the "Items" tab prior to any items being added, in line with the "People" and "Devices" tabs when empty:
This internal build of iOS 13 is from June, so we cannot guarantee that the "Items" tab or all of the details presented above will be exactly as described. The icon for the "People" tab has already been tweaked slightly in subsequent iOS 13 betas, for example, so there will be at least some minor changes.
Apple is hosting a September 10 event at Steve Jobs Theater, where it is widely expected to unveil new iPhone and Apple Watch models, but it is unclear if its item tracker tags will be unveiled at that time or later.