We know Apple’s AirTags must surely exist, because credible rumors and leaks about them have been trickling into our news feeds for what seems like forever. The latest rumor, however, provides a glimmer of hope that we might see these things in our lifetime.
According to TechCrunch, Apple launched a new Find My Certification app over the weekend. The app lets third-party device or accessory makers test how their products work with the Find My app. This comes on the heels of the iOS 14.5 beta enabling an “items” tab in the app, and leaked renders showing a dollar coin-sized device that purportedly costs $39. Finding code within an iOS beta and renders are pretty good clues on their own that a company is working on something—but that doesn’t mean those features or products will ever see the light of day. Perhaps a dev forgot to erase something, and internal renders can look drastically different from the final product.
A more reliable indicator is when companies start opening things up to third parties. That generally means whatever’s in development is close to being finished, and it’s time for third-party accessory makers to get cracking. According to TechCrunch’s app screenshots, you can test things like connectivity, sound, firmware, key management, NFC, and power.
Technically speaking, Apple said it was going to add third-party Find My support at WWDC 2020. Much of this likely stems from Tile’s longstanding beef with Apple, in which the company alleged Apple was acting like a gatekeeper to favor its own interests. (In this case, the yet-to-be-seen AirTags.) Earlier in January, there were reports that Tile was also working on new ultra-wideband-compatible trackers. That’s major, as Apple has been quietly sneaking its U1 UWB chip in several of its newest products, including the Apple Watch Series 6 and the HomePod Mini. Why do all this if the Find My network wasn’t going to be showing up in the relatively near future?
But when?? When will we see these things?! We know they exist and that they’re close to being done because all the evidence points in that direction. It was nearly a year ago that Apple did an oopsie and leaked its own YouTube tutorial referring to the Find My network and AirTags. We’ve been talking about AirTags since at least 2019 and it is now 2021. I can’t stress how many times the Gizmodo consumer tech team has held its collective breath during the gazillion Apple events last fall, wondering if we’d finally see the damn things. At the end of February, rumors started swirling that Apple would at long last hold a March event to show off new iPads and—wait for it—the AirTags.
As we all know, it’s now April. There are still no AirTags but plenty of AirTag rumors.
Again, third-party access is a much more encouraging sign, so there’s strong reason to hope the long wait will soon be over. But please, Apple, put us all out of our misery and release the AirTags! Free us from this product purgatory! After all, we’ve still got years of AR headset and Apple Car rumors to endure. Sob.