Oops! Apple accidentally revealed the existence of an unpublished product, AirTags, in a support video uploaded to its YouTube account today. The video "How to Erase Your iPhone" provides a tutorial on how to reset an iPhone to factory settings. From the 1:43 mark, users are instructed to deactivate "Find my iPhone" as part of the process. On the "Settings" page that appears, another option for "Enable offline search" is displayed. The text below refers to AirTags by name.
In particular, it says: "Through the offline search, this device and AirTags can be found when there is no connection to Wi-Fi or mobile radio."
The discovery was first discovered on the Appleosophy Eagle's Eye blog.
Apple has since pulled the video. (A copy of the video is embedded below.)
AirTags, essentially Apple's tile competitor, were already in the works. Based on the details and resources contained in Apple's iOS code, AirTags are likely small tracking tiles with Bluetooth connectivity that can be used to find lost items – just like Tile.
The difference is that Apple's AirTags benefit from deeper integration in iOS, including in the Find My app. There, the tags appear in a new "Items" tab where you can track items that are lost or stolen – such as keys, wallet, or even your bike.
MacRumors reports that the tags will include a replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery that is also similar to Tile.
Apple's intention to copy the concept of Tile has not gone unnoticed by Tile.
The company told a convention panel on Wednesday that Apple's anti-competitive behavior has "gotten worse, not better".
During the hearing, Tile referred to Apple's plans to integrate its own product into the "Find My" app. Tile and other Bluetooth trackers cannot. You'll also have to repeatedly ask for access to the background location, while Apple's AirTags may not. This gives Apple's own product an advantage because it owns the platform.
Apple was asked to comment.
Photo credit: Apple, via YouTube; MacRumors