One of the most enjoyable parts of an iPhone launch day is those few hours thereafter, when the dust settles and all of the neat little tidbits become apparent.
One of those is the capabilities of the new U1 coprocessor sitting within the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, which was not afforded significant time during the unveiling.
During the keynote Apple did say the U1 “ultra-wideband” chip – which controls some location tracking aspects of the new phones in relation to other handsets – will offer “amazing new capabilities,” but didn’t go into detail.
Now we’ve learned one of those capabilities is a massive improvement to Apple’s Bluetooth-based AirDrop file-sharing technology. With a device in the iPhone 11 range you’ll be able to share a file via AirDrop more easily by pointing your iPhone at the recipient’s. This will see that handset jump to the top of the sharing list. Neat.
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In a post on the Apple website, the company explains the chip will enable iPhone owners to share, find and play more precisely than ever, calling the tech ‘GPS at living-room scale.’
The company writes: “Ultra Wideband technology comes to iPhone. The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices. Think GPS at the scale of your living room. So if you want to share a file with someone using AirDrop, just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.”
Apple points out the feature is coming on September 30, which means it’ll be available within the iOS 13.1 update on the iPhone 11 series handsets.
There’s sure to be plenty more exciting elements we’ve yet to discover pertaining to the U1 chip. We’re still expecting Apple to launch Tile-like Bluetooth tags in the near future, for example. Rumours this week suggest the U1 could be used to help users discover those tags when attached to household items.