Apple is preparing to open its “Where is?” (“Find my”). The app pre-installed on iPhones and iPads, which has previously been able to locate people and devices, will soon also help to find lost everyday objects. The function for adding tagged items, which has long been hidden in the operating system, has now been activated in iOS 14.5, as reported by developers with access to the latest beta version.
“Where is?” finds everyday objects
A new tab allows users to add objects to the “Where is” app, which are then tracked, and to identify a foreign object found. The owner can apparently leave a message for the finder in this way. The prerequisite is that the items support Apple’s “where-is” network, which has so far been reserved for the manufacturer’s in-house hardware. Apple released the service last year to third-party manufacturers who can use it to integrate their products. Belkin is the first manufacturer to announce this for its Soundform Freedom true wireless headphones, which will be available soon.
It has long been expected that Apple will also bring its own key finder onto the market in the form of “AirTags” that can be attached to objects. In addition to Bluetooth, these could also integrate ultra-broadband radio so that they can be found more precisely in the immediate vicinity of iPhones with Apple’s U1 chip. The accessory may be presented at an Apple event in March. iOS 14.5 could be released for download towards the end of the month.
Apple’s huge “where is” network
All iPhones and iPads registered with Apple’s remote location service “Find my iPhone” listen for Bluetooth signals in the area and can also locate third-party hardware that has no Internet connection itself or is currently offline. The network consists of several hundred million Apple devices, according to the manufacturer.
The location is encrypted and transmitted to the owner of the device or object. Apple uses various protective mechanisms that are supposed to make tracking individual devices via Bluetooth more difficult. The transmitted location is protected by end-to-end encryption to make it impossible for third parties – including Apple – to view it.