Apple AirTags rumors find new life as Find My app gets a big update

Find My
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple had previously restricted its Find My feature to only locate Apple-made devices, partially out of security and privacy concerns: it works by tapping into the network of existing iPhones and other Apple products out in the wild. But the company is opening it up to third-party accessories, including Tile-like trackers, reigniting the possibility of the Tile-like Apple AirTags.

Non-Apple product manufacturers can now integrate into the Find My web of devices so long as they adhere to the privacy protections of the network, Apple explained in a press release. Crucially, existing products can be added, too – all compatible products can feature a ‘Works with Apple Find My’ badge to indicate compatibility.

Apple is also gearing up to release a draft specification in the coming months that will instruct chipset manufacturers on how to harness the Ultra Wideband signal tech in Apple devices packing U1 chips for better directional awareness. 

The first third-party products to be included in the Find My network include a trio of upcoming products: Blekin’s Soundform Freedom true wireless earbuds, the Tile-like Chipolo ONE Spot item finder, and VanMoof’s latest generation of S3 and X3 electric bikes.

Of course, this expansion of Find My feels like a natural lead-in to the much-rumored AirTags.

Find My new Tile-like Apple trackers

Rumors have suggested Apple has been developing its own Tile-like tracking fobs for years, and leaks have grown over the years to claim their imminent release several times – the most recent suggesting the product is ready to go for a March reveal date that came and went.

It’s the tech that initially tipped folks off to the AirTags: code snippets in iOS 13 and iOS 14 that pointed to accessories that would harness the U1 chips in the newer iPhones that would use Ultra Wideband tech to find whichever device you’ve clipped an AirTag to.

It’s interesting that Apple is opening up its Find My network to third-party accessories that include these ‘item tracker’ fob-style devices before launching its own products, but perhaps the company wants wider adoption of the network (and quite simply more devices to expand the reach of its web) before it introduces another niche-dominating first-party product. We’ll have to wait and see when (or if) Apple finally reveals its long-rumored AirTags.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.