Expected that Apple will soon launch the Nearby Interactions feature made possible by U1

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During WWDC last month, Apple gave developers a taste of iOS 16’s new Nearby Interactions feature, which allows third-party smart devices to communicate with Apple’s ultra-wideband (UWB) U1 chips in the background for “new hands-free user experiences,” making things like activating a light bulb when you walk by it possible. As a result of the new framework, developers may take advantage of real-time and exact location triggers, and chipset manufacturers can seek MFi certification for interoperability with U1, as chip manufacturer Qorvo did just this past week (via MacRumors).

The president of Qorvo Mobile products, Eric Creviston, was quoted as saying in a news release that the company’s comprehensive portfolio of UWB chips, modules, and software will help accelerate the ecosystem of linked UWB goods and accessories. After receiving MFi certification for its DW3110 integrated Impulse Radio UWB wireless transceiver, the company is now able to sell this chip to other businesses so that they can incorporate it into their own accessories and take advantage of Apple’s Nearby Interactions.

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The U1 chip found in certain Apple devices is capable of functioning as a highly localized GPS locator. It is currently used for things like finding your keys under the sofa with AirTags, unlocking cars, sharing files via AirDrop by aiming your iPhone at your friends, and “Jedi-waving” your iPhone over your HomePod to transfer a Now Playing song to it. The U1 chip is currently built into the iPhone 11 and later models (but not the iPhone SE series), the Apple Watch Series 6 and later models, AirTags, and the HomePod mini. However, it is conspicuously absent from the Apple TV remote and the iPad Pros.

Apple isn’t the only business working with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology; smart tracker industry pioneer Tile is developing UWB trackers to compete with Apple’s AirTags and Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTags. It has been reported that Tesla is looking to integrate ultra-wideband (UWB) technology into its electric vehicles. However, it is highly unlikely that Tesla (or any of Apple’s competitors, for that matter) will pursue Nearby Interactions, which could possibly Smart Summon your car automatically as you walk out of your private jet (and maybe that’s a good thing).

Apple started letting other accessory makers incorporate their items into the Find My device finder last year, and now with Nearby Interactions, the ecosystem of smart devices that can perform things like unlock a door without you pulling your iPhone out will undoubtedly increase. It’s possible that future devices employing Nearby Interactions will make it easier to connect your smart home and reduce the number of unintentional triggers because they only work when your U1-enabled device is on you.

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