In our previous post on Apple WWDC on the ‘Find my’ feature we explained how the use of others’ phones for finding your devices is much like Tile (and other tracking beacons). However, there’s evidence that Apple might also be creating their own, separate, Tile-like device. 9to5Mac also have some further speculations.
It’s also interesting that Apple are changing the API for looking for beacons. CLBeaconRegion has become CLBeaconIdentityConstraint. The functionality currently remains the same in that you can filter by UUID/major/minor. However, the renaming of the API to make it more generic suggests it might eventually also be used for something else which might be the Apple tag.
While devices such as the Tile are great, when finding items remotely, they assume lots of people have them for someone else’s Tile app to see your tile. While the Tile network is large at 15 million trackers it will never be large enough to reliably find things. Apple has a much greater reach to make such a scheme more successful. Tracking things such as your lost car or dog become far more feasible.
An observation is that Google Android has a substantially greater reach offering Google the opportunity to offer something similar, more reliable (due to sheer number of devices) but more open as they did with Bluetooth Eddystone vs iBeacon. Taking this idea further, it’s a shame there isn’t an open Bluetooth tracking system or standard, for example, championed by the Bluetooth SIG.
September 2019 Update: It’s looks like Apple will be using UWB rather than Bluetooth making the solution more accurate and more proprietary. If true, it will eventually compete with Bluetooth Direction Finding.
May 2020 Update: The device will be called AirTag.