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The iPhone 11 lineup has a U1 location chip, but what about Apple Tags?

What you need to know

  • Apple announced iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max with the U1 chip.
  • The U1 chip is designed to help Apple devices precisely locate each other.
  • Apple Tags will likely use the same U1 chip but were not announced.

Apple announced its next round of iPhones, with iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max now all a reality. It's also updated its website with all kinds of interesting bits (opens in new tab) of information, including an explainer about the new U1 chip inside those iPhones.

Before the media event we heard about a new coprocessor that was expected to be part of the new iPhones. Codenamed R1 and Rose, that coprocessor was believed to be designed for improved location awareness. And sure enough, that's what the new U1 chip is for, too.

If the U1 chip is indeed the aforementioned R1/Rose coprocessor, we're still missing part of the equation. Where are the Apple Tags?

They might not have been announced during the event, but they are surely still coming. And soon, too. References to them have been found in iOS 13 updates and the existence of the U1 chip in the iPhone 11 lineup further strengthens the belief that some from of tracking tag is on the horizon.

With Apple still expected to announce new iPad Pro models as well as the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro, the smart money is on another media event. Likely in October. If that's the case, wouldn't that be a good time to announce Apple Tags? Especially if the U1 chip is built into everything Apple announced on-stage.

We think that it would. Absolutely.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • No search party is necessary. And where would you search anyhow? Perhaps you could search for a corner in Apple Park. The premise that Apple should announce all products using a new chip on Day 1 is completely silly.
  • I think there may be far more going on with U1 than anyone -- including Jason Snell in his "Six Colors" article -- has discussed. U1 chips embedded in gloves and shoes could provide input for all sorts of virtual reality games. They could also be used for serious performance and PT training for gait. I have friends who train clients to have foot rotation (i.e., pronation) while walking/running. Instrumented footwear could give clients a means to get in-home feedback on how they're doing and for trainers to provide well-instrumented remote training for clients. The ability to inexpensively capture human motion data could be a boon for science research. It'd be great if Rene or someone else on the iMore team could contact Decawave for more information.