Everything we know (so far) about Apple’s Find My network
Apple is opening up new opportunity for manufacturers who want to put tracking devices in their products, the Find My Network.
What is the Find My network?
There are hundreds of millions of recent Apple devices in use worldwide. Apple has figured out how to use those devices and their Bluetooth connection to find objects.
“The Find My network is a crowdsourced network of hundreds of millions of Apple devices that can help users locate a missing iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and soon, third-party Find My network-enabled accessories, using the Find My app,” Apple explains.
How it works
The network relies on Apple devices already in use worldwide to find lost items like some vast crowdsourced tracking system.
This is based on Bluetooth and means that when an iPhone passes near a device that has been reported as lost, a signal is despatched that shares the new location of the lost device.
The owner of the device that is lost can then secure the new location information when they log into Find My.
As Apple explains it
“Devices in the Find My network use Bluetooth wireless technology to detect missing devices or items nearby and report their approximate location back to the owner. The entire interaction is end-to-end encrypted, anonymous, and is extremely data and battery efficient.”
Now others can join
Apple is opening its Find My Network technology up to third party makers later this year. They will be able to include the technology within their products.
The company has made a draft version of the specifications required for the scheme available which can be found here.
What products does Apple think will use this?
Apple says it sees the technology being made available to manufacturers of the following devices:
- Standalone tracking accessories
- Travel equipment (such as luggage or backpacks)
- Clothing (such as jackets or shoes)
- Personal items (such as wallets, handbags, or sunglasses)
- Sports equipment (such as bikes, scooters or helmets)
- Personal electronic devices (such as headphones, cameras, or portable speakers)
- Medical equipment (such as wheelchairs or inhalers)
- And, as ever, a catch-all category called “Other”.
Once the technology is finalized developers will be required to join Apple’s MFi Program to implement it in their products.
Wasn’t Apple going to introduce its own tracking device?
AirTags (thought to be Apple’s own tracking device based on the Find My system) have been speculated at since WWDC 2019, but nothing has appeared.
It’s possible Apple has decided to make the technology available as a standard to third parties as others in the space, principally Tile, had complained at being muscled out of the market. There’s no word yet if Tile will support Apple’s network.
There are hundreds of tracking devices available today. These cost anything from tens to hundreds of dollars and in most cases require you sign-up to a network provider for SIM card-based network access. That’s the difference the FindMy Network brings.
Of course, it’s also possible we’ll see an Apple product appear once the new operating systems ship.
When will the final spec be available?
The final specification should be available by the end of this year. You can find a little more information here.