Last week on Tuesday (10th of September) Apple had their annual event in which they presented their new iPhones 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max together with a new Apple Watch Series 5, a new base model iPad and news about Apples new Services like Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade.
Out of all of these, of course, the new iPhones were in the center of everyone’s attention. However, Apple didn’t talk about everything new their smartphones, they just saw a nice designed graphic with other features, and one of these is their new U1 Chip.
What is the new U1 Chip?
It is a new chip which uses Ultra-Wideband Technology, which helps the iPhone with spatial awareness. What does that mean? Your new iPhone will be able to locate other iPhones which have a U1 Chip very precisely, something like a GPS, but which only works at short distances like inside a room. One use of this chip is when you use AirDrop to share some files or photos with someone else, now with this chip, you don’t have to wait to locate all the AirDrop devices around you and search for the right one, if you point your device to that iPhone, it will show in a new screen much bigger to show you that you are going to share these files with the person in front of you. This chip adds a new sense to your iPhone, and this will lead to new capabilities.
Why they didn’t talk about it?
Apple likes to sneak new features like this without talking about them initially just because they have a much bigger plan for it. In 2012 they did the same thing when they announced TouchID and they showed potential uses for it, some of these being a credit card machine. What is that about? It was a small preview of the Apple Pay which was only announced in 2014 and now it is a major part of the Apple ecosystem. They wanted to show it just to build an expectation about new products which they are preparing to launch.
How to activate Apple’s new U1 Chip
If you have an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max or anything released after these 3, the U1 chip is already activated and ready to go. To test it, just go into the Photos app, and press the share button of any photo. If you point your device to any other device which has a U1 Chip, you will directly see that on your screen due to a new interface specially created for this new feature to show you the person in front of you.
What can be a bigger plan for the U1 Chip?
For the past 6 months, there have been many leaks about a new apple hardware product which will be a competitor with Tile. If you don’t know Tile is a very small device which can be hooked to your keys, placed in your wallet, bag or anywhere else you can fit it. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and if you can’t find whatever is attached to the Tile, you can make the small Tile create a sound which will allow you to find it. Another use for the Tile is if you can’t find your phone but you have a Tile device around. Just press on the tile and your phone will start ringing.
If Apple will create a similar device but which will be very tightly linked to its ecosystem, you will have a new experience for the Apple users and the New U1 chip will just make it better. The new iPhone could be able to show you the direction where your keys are, so you could just walk to them instead of having to figure out where the sound is coming from. This will create a much better experience for the user and will be seen more futuristic.
iBeacon the first version of the U1 Chip
This is an old technology abandoned by Apple in the last years. They worked differently, but their aim was very similar, to find an iPhone user in a predefined space. The iBeacons used Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy also known as BLE and to work, you needed at least 3 of them to perform a triangularization to find your iPhone and show you or notify you about relevant information in the area you are in. This was supposed to be used in stores, where you will get a notification on your phone when you were next to some items which were running a promotion. However, their way of finding your exact location never worked properly and it was very inaccurate that’s why you most probably never saw this technology being used in a store. It just didn’t meet the expectation.
Apple Glasses, AR Glasses, VR Glasses
Many leaks are showing that Apple is working at a pair of glasses, an already named Apple Glasses product which should be released sooner or later. In the beginning, people were thinking Apple is trying to get into VR, but in the last years, Apple worked hard and increased the AR game around the world with very accurate software which can be implemented in any Application extremely easy. Following Apple’s trend, we surely believe they are working on AR Glasses which will place objects in your environment but instead of having to look through a phone screen, you just look around and the glasses will do the job.
People believe that the new U1 Chip can be a new way to track your environment very precisely by having small devices around your house and the glasses can tell how far you are from certain objects without using computation power to compare the images from the cameras. If the U1 Chips is used in Apple Glasses, then we expect a very big performance boost due to the less work needing to be done to position you into the AR world.
Next-generation of U1 is already coming
Of course, Apple is already working at the 2nd generation of this cheap. Very recently Apple applied for a few more patents regarding the Ultra-Wide Band Technology which proves that they already have some ideas and prototypes of what the next generation will be, and as always, the 2nd generation of an Apple product is always much better in many ways.
Apple releases silently a new chip called U1 which helps you track other U1 Chips in your environment ad very close distance. This is used for AirDrop but has potential to be used the next Apple Tile competitor or in their new Apple glasses and even more. The potential is high, and Apple will deliver new amazing features with this new impressive chip.