We return to talk about Apple AirTags, or Apple Tags or whatever they will be called the Apple location accessories that have been rumored for some time: the American intellectual property office has published two patents that, unequivocally, refer to them . As the title suggests, they are both related to energy management: one in particular focuses on the various power supply modes, the other on energy management.
As usual, patents are very technical and complicated, but let's try to summarize the main details briefly:
- Ability to intelligently boost signal strength based on proximity to certain devices and location.
- Use of UWB (Ultra-wide Band) technology and dynamic power management to ensure long distance tracking with extremely low power consumption, on the order of magnitude of NFC.
- Update of location information even from devices not linked to the tag owner's iCloud account.
- Wide range of communication protocols supported: precisely UWB, Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE, LP and ULP primarily, in some cases Wi-Fi and even cellular connectivity are also provided. Some tags may also have ancillary components such as speakers, status LEDs, and so on.
- Various energy consumption steps: from ultra-low to ultra-high. For example, the former can be used as long as the tag senses that it is still nearby the host device, or until it is requested to send data from other devices. If the tag knows it is in a safe area, such as the user's home or workplace or other places visited frequently and regularly, it will avoid activating the most energy-intensive mode. On the contrary, it will even be able to perceive if you are abandoning a vehicle (be it a train, a plane or your car) and put itself in pre-alarm in case the user is forgetting it on board.
- Integration with Apple Pay and the ability to use tags to pay instead of Apple Watch or iPhone
- Ability to share tags with multiple users: for example if you want to keep track of sports equipment used by the whole family.
Meanwhile, it continues to be unclear when the AirTags will be presented. The rumors insist "by the end of the year", so probably coinciding with the arrival of the iPhone 12. We'll see.