clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here’s how Apple imagined AirTags would work one year ago

New, 15 comments

More details emerge about Apple’s Tile competitor

One diagram shows how the tags could be attached to a set of keys.
Image: Apple / USPTO

As well as letting you find lost items, Apple has considered allowing its unannounced, but heavily leaked AirTags to do everything from measuring your posture to helping your phone display information relevant to the building you’re in. The details have emerged in a pair of patent applications that were filed a year ago and were found by Patently Apple after they were made public yesterday.

Since there have been so many leaks about Apple’s Tile-like tracking pucks, we already have a good idea about their features, which involve helping you to keep track of your belongings. So what’s most interesting in these patent applications is the other use cases Apple has been thinking about. One series of diagrams shows how the trackers could be stuck on your body and used to track your posture, or even control a character onscreen.

One diagram shows the trackers being used to control an onscreen character
Image: Apple / USPTO
Another shows the trackers used to track posture.
Image: Apple / USPTO

Another pointed out by MacRumors describes how the tags could be mounted in a building, and used to prompt your phone to display helpful information like a map when it senses you’re close.

Beyond these alternative use cases, Apple’s patent applications for a “Mounting base for a wirelessly locatable tag” and a “Fastener with a constrained retention ring” don’t contain many surprises about the AirTags core functionality. The tags themselves are described as being small and easily attached to items like “keys, purses, or wallets, to help an owner find lost, misplaced, or stolen objects” and are likely to be waterproof and drop-proof. Here are a couple of diagrams from the patents showing how the tags could attach to accessories like a watch strap.

The tags could be embedded in a watch strap...
Image: Apple / USPTO
... to help you find a watch.
Image: Apple / USPTO

When you need to find the device they’re attached to, Apple describes how the tags’ ultra wideband technology could help your phone locate them within an accuracy of a couple of feet or less, and the tags themselves “can produce audible and/or haptic outputs” to help you find them. Or, if you’re not close enough, the device can transmit data through any other people’s devices who are around, a feature that seems likely to tie into Apple’s Find My app.

AirTags have been rumored for so long now that it seems like only a matter of time before they’re announced. Reports indicate that they entered production last month, and a recent rumor suggests we could see an announcement soon.