Apple tells accessory makers how to make things work with iPhone’s U1 chip

What you need to know

  • Apple has outlined how accessory companies can make use of the U1 chip found in modern iPhones.
  • Accessories using the U1 chip will be able to operate in a way that’s similar to AirTag.

Competition for AirTag could be coming.

Apple has shared a specification for the Nearby Interactions with U1 system that will ultimately allow accessory makers to create devices that make use of iPhone 11 and iPhone 12‘s U1 chip.

The documentation was made available as part of WWDC21 and includes information for app developers, accessory manufacturers, and chipset makers who want to learn more about making the best of the U1 chip.

Allow people to interact with connected accessories in completely new and exciting ways by leveraging the U1 chip in iPhone or Apple Watch. The Nearby Interaction framework makes it easy to get started with integrating Ultra Wideband (UWB) in your apps and hardware accessories.

The draft specification could ultimately allow manufacturers to create accessories that use the U1 chip for Precision Finding similar to that offered by AirTag. This could then open the door to AirTag getting real competition. Similar Bluetooth trackers don’t offer the same level of Precision Finding right now due to the lack of U1 compatibility.

The draft specification is intended for accessory manufacturers looking to integrate UWB into new or existing accessories. To learn how to build apps that work with Nearby Interaction-enabled accessories, view the the Nearby Interaction framework documentation. Chipset manufacturers who are interested in building a UWB solution that is interoperable with Apple U1 should join the MFi Program.

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