Now the euphoria of Apple’s iPhone 11 launch has died down, let’s ask a few questions, starting with “when will Tim Cook reveal the hidden iPhone features and upgrade every user for free?
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)
One key missing feature to ironically note is the much discussed ‘Apple Tags’ feature that allows the physical location of items lost in the real world.
If you’ve ever used ‘Find My Friends’ on iOS then you already know the principle – just extend it from the location of an existing Apple device out towards much smaller standalone tags. These tags will presumably be bluetooth enabled, and work alongside Apple’s own U1 chip that is lurking quietly in the iPhone 11 hardware.
The code for the Apple Tags user interface has been in the iOS 13 codebase for some time, but as Joe Rossignol notes, it has been removed from the public release:
The internal build of iOS 13 containing these leaked images and screenshots is from early June, so we cannot guarantee that the “Items” tab or all of the details presented above will be exactly as described. We also cannot guarantee that Apple will ever release the tags, but it has certainly been working on them.
There’s a better chance than not that the Apple Tags will eventually be released, as reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed the tags will support ultra-wideband technology, allowing the new iPhone 11 models equipped with U1 ultra-wideband chips to accurately pinpoint the position of the tags.
This is the point where everyone thinks that Tile should be worried, but unless Tim Cook extends the service out to non-Apple devices then Tile will remain a viable alternative for many (as well as having the value of being the incumbent tag-tracking service with a huge ad-hoc network).
Given Apple’s push towards software and services and tying these to the ownership of at least one iOS-powered ‘gateway’ device, I expect the presumptively named Apple Tags to be another practical tool that keeps the consumer locked into Apple’s walled graded of software and services. It may not be a subscription service, but it keeps you and your wallet tied into the platform.
I also expect it to come with the benefit of not being free, boosting Apple’s average revenue per user. With iPhone sales continuing to fall, maximising the profit from each individual is key to giving the services strategy as much time as possible to build up its own revenue stream.
The question now is if Apple will switch on the Apple Tags feature as a promotional boost during the life of the iPhone – perhaps in time for Christmas – or if it will remain dormant until the launch of the redesigned iPhone 5G in 2020.