History of AirTags rumours

It's been a long road to release and if you'd like to know the history of AirTags rumours, read on to find out who got it right.

A surprising amount of evidence leaked out via assets that appeared in the iOS 13 beta last year, and even earlier in 2019 sources confirmed to 9to5Mac that an object tracker project was underway at Apple.

9to5Mac first reported that Apple was working on a Tag back in April 2019. At that time the site wrote about the new Find My app, which hadn't yet been released; it indicated that people involved in the development of the app were aware of a new hardware device codenamed 'B389' that would allow users to track any item.

Then, in June 2019, 9to5Mac reported that there were references to this Tag device in iOS 13. The first beta of iOS 13 included an asset package for a device with the product type 'Tag1,1'.

MacRumors also wrote about an internal build of iOS 13 that incorporated graphical assets including an image of what appears to be the tracker itself. This may be placeholder art or an earlier prototype, however, and the final released product may look significantly different.

Apple to unveil 'Tag' object tracker: MacRumors artwork

An updated interface for the new version of the Find My app was found in a beta of iOS 13 in September 2019. This app (which now combines the old Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps into a single interface) had three panes: People, Devices, and Items. The first two correspond to friends and Apple products, but the third points to the use of a tracker to tag other objects.

Apple to unveil 'Tag' object tracker: Find My Items

The September screenshots obtained by MacRumours also include the codename for the device - B389. Along with the words "Tag your everyday items with B389 and never lose them again."

Pundits believe the interface will let you view tagged objects in AR (augmented reality), as evidenced by balloon illustrations that appear in assets. It's thought that red and orange balloons will indicate the location of the item using AR technology.

The abundance of evidence is enough for respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo to give the rumours his backing. In a research note in September 2019 Kuo said the tags will be based on UWB (ultra-wideband) technology, which uses minimal power and offers highly accurate location tracking within a building.

Further reading

For more information about what Apple will launch in the next 12 months, take a look at our guide to the new Apple products coming out in 2021. And check out the latest bargains in our roundup of the best Apple deals.