Apple’s “Where is?” Network tracks down lost Apple hardware and allows it to be blocked via the network. The app also shows the location of friends who share this information. In addition, “Where is” can find items that are not online, in which the app reports searched items as lost and allows other Apple devices to roughly locate them via Bluetooth. The entire process is encrypted end-to-end.
As expected, Apple is now opening this network to other manufacturers via the MFi (“Made For iPhone”) program. Approved products can be added to a separate tab “Items” in the “Where is” app. Starting next week, the first three products, which can be found in “Where is?” Record: The latest S3 and X3 e-bikes from VanMoof, the Soundform Freedom True Wireless in-ear headphones from Belkin and the Chipolo One Spot article finder.
Works with iOS and macOS
Adding third-party products to the “Items” tab in the “Where’s” App requires an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 14.3 or later, an iPad with iPadOS 14.3 or later, or a Mac with macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later. You also need an Apple ID and have to be logged into the iCloud account with the “Where is?” Function activated.
Compared to existing solutions, the “Where is?” Network has a decisive advantage: It is already provided by the operating system and does not depend on third-party apps, which must first be installed on as many smartphones as possible and require constant access to the location in order to be able to locate objects that have been reported as lost. This creates a denser network of finders. Neither Apple nor the third-party providers know where the items you are looking for are located. This is only known to the user.
In addition to location via Bluetooth, Apple wants to enable other device manufacturers to use ultra-broadband technology in Apple devices equipped with U1 chips and to enable even more precise location determination. A specification for chipset manufacturers is to be published this spring.