In 2021, Apple launched AirTag with a Precision Finding feature for iPhone users to locate the tracker with guided navigation when within Bluetooth range.
This year, Apple has introduced new Precision Finding tracking features in the iPhone 15 series, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and Series 9, exclusively.
- ‘Precision Finding for Find My Friends’ on iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro to locate other iPhone 15s.
- ‘Precision Finding for the iPhone’ on Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 to locate iPhone 15 models.
The tech giant claims that the new 2023 iPhone and Apple Watch models are equipped with second-generation Ultra Wideband which allows iPhone 15 users to locate other iPhone 15 users and Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 users to locate iPhone 15 users.
What Apple devices support Precision Finding?
|iPhone and Apple Watch |
|Devices located by Precision Finding|
|iPhone 15 series||iPhone 15 models and AirTag|
|Apple Watch Ultra 2||iPhone 15 models|
|Apple Watch Series 9||iPhone 15 models|
|iPhone 11 series||AirTag|
|iPhone 12 series||AirTag|
|iPhone 13 series||AirTag|
|iPhone 14 series||AirTag|
Let’s investigate what is required to enable Precision Finding on a device to know if new features are limited by hardware or software on older iPhone and Apple Watch models.
What chip do the iPhones and Apple Watches need to support Precision Finding?
In the AirTag’s announcement press release, Apple detailed that the electronic tracker featured a U1 chip with Ultra Wideband technology to support Precision Finding.Each AirTag is equipped with the Apple-designed U1 chip using Ultra Wideband technology, enabling Precision Finding for iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 users. This advanced technology can more accurately determine the distance and direction to a lost AirTag when it is in range. As a user moves, Precision Finding fuses input from the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope, and then will guide them to AirTag using a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback.
So it appears that iPhone and Apple Watch models need to be equipped with Ultra Wideband to enable the Precision Finding feature. Here are the devices that feature Ultra Wideband to enable Precision Finding:
- AirTag features Bluetooth and U1 chip for Ultra Wideband
- iPhone 11 features Bluetooth 5.0 and Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
- iPhone 12 features Bluetooth 5. and Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
- iPhone 13 series features Bluetooth 5.0 and Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
- iPhone 14 series features Bluetooth 5.3 and Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
- Apple Watch Ultra 1 features Bluetooth 5.3 and U1 chip (Ultra Wideband)
- Apple Watch Series 8 features Bluetooth 5.3 and U1 chip (Ultra Wideband)
Now, the question arises that if devices only require Ultra Wideband to enable Precision Finding, why did Apple not release the new Precision Finding for Find My Friends on iPhone 15 and Precision Finding for the iPhone on Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 on older iPhone and Apple Watch models?
It seems that new features are a software limitation which is disappointing.
Features on iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro limited by software on older iPhones
In addition to new Precision Finding features, Apple has also released other features exclusively on iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro by software limitations.