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Apple opens up its Find My network to third-party devices—no AirTag needed


While we’ve been waiting for the long-rumored AirTags to finally make an appearance, it appears that Apple might have pulled a head fake. Instead of a keychain that you can attach to things, Apple is partnering with third-party device manufacturers to use the Find My app to track down things they have lost.

Much like Apple’s own devices, third-party manufacturers who sign up for the Works with Apple Find My program will be able to tap into the Find My network to see where lost items are on a map, even if they can’t or don’t connect to the internet. The vast Find My network uses end-to-end encryption to crowdsource data from the hundreds of millions of Apple devices around the world to help locate missing items.

Additionally, Works with Apple Find My devices will be able to take advantage of ultra-wideband technology in the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and Apple Watch Series 6 to track products with greater precision. It’s not clear whether Apple will allow devices to be powered down or remotely wiped as you can with Apple devices.

IDG

Belkin, Chipolo, and VanMoof have already created products using the new specification, which will all include a “Works with Apple Find My” label. VanMoof is adding support to its S3 and X3 e-bikes beginning today, Belkin is bringing Find My to its Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds, and Chipolo is baking Find My into its One Bluetooth tracker. Existing devices won’t be able to use the network, and Apple says additional third-party device manufacturers will be available soon.

When you buy a Find My device, you’ll be able to add it to the Find My app using a new Items tab. The update, which was pushed to iPhones, Macs, and iPads today, requires iOS 14.4 or macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later.

Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.



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