As a part of WWDC 21, Apple shared a draft specification of its Nearby Interaction Accessory Protocol, allowing third-party manufacturers to create accessories that can integrate Ultra Wideband-enabled Nearby Interactions in their hardware. Ultra-Wideband is available on iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and Apple Watch Series 6.
Apple shares Nearby Interactions protocol for third-party U1 chip integration
The resources include a draft specification of the Nearby Interactions protocol. The tech giant is also holding an “Explore Nearby Interaction with third-party accessories” session for developers and accessory manufacturers.
Allow people to interact with connected accessories in completely new and exciting ways by leveraging the U1 chip in iPhone or Apple Watch. The Nearby Interaction framework makes it easy to get started with integrating Ultra Wideband (UWB) in your apps and hardware accessories.
The draft specification could allow third-party accessory markers to view the conditions required for developer accessories that integrate with Apple’s UWB technology. Manufacturers will then be able to create accessories that use the U1 chip for Precision Finding on AirTag and Airdrop.
The draft specification is intended for accessory manufacturers looking to integrate UWB into new or existing accessories. To learn how to build apps that work with Nearby Interaction-enabled accessories, view the the Nearby Interaction framework documentation. Chipset manufacturers who are interested in building a UWB solution that is interoperable with Apple U1 should join the MFi Program.
Bluetooth trackers similar to AirTag currently do not offer the same level of Precision Finding as they are not compatible with Apple’s U1 chip. Apping opening up this technology to third-party accessory makers could lead to some competition for its own item-tracker.
Currently, it is unclear when third-party accessories that are compatible with the Nearby Interaction framework will be available for purchase.
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