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Apple opens access to the U1 chip of the latest iPhones for developers

Much has been said about the U1, chip present in the iPhones 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, which uses waves of ultra wide band for accurate spatial recognition tasks.

We assume that the main purpose of coprocessors is to make it possible for future "AirTags", but tracking devices have not yet been announced by Apple. So far, U1 is used only for the new directional interface of AirDrop, that is, a unique case of a remarkable technology used for a much smaller purpose than it is.

U1 chip

Well, so far: Apple has decided to open the chip technology to developers, that is, applications and third-party accessories can take advantage of U1 in the same way as the Ma itself.

With the frameworkNearby Interactions, professionals will be able to access the information on the chip and embed it in the functionalities of their automobile manufacturer applications, for example, they will be able to use the U1 to create their digital car keys. Apple itself lists some scenarios in which spatial information can be used:

  • A collective augmented reality experience, in which the chip would distribute virtual bladders in the hands of the participants and organize the "battle";
  • Improvements for taxi or ride applications the U1 could detect the precise location of the driver and user in real time to make the meeting of the two even easier;
  • A multiplayer game similar to Pong, in which two users would control rackets (each on their iPhone) trying to hit the ball that moves around the field.

Apps that want to have access to the U1 chip will need to have this permission granted by the user; to preserve consumer privacy, each session an application uses the chip data, a random identifier will be generated to be linked to that user.

For interested professionals (and users), the Apple developer portal already has a video detailing the new framework; technical information on its operation can be read on this page.

It remains to be seen, now, when Apple will finally put the U1 on more devices the chip appeared only in the iPhone 11 family, but it is not present in any of the devices launched by Ma later (neither on iPads nor on the second-generation iPhone SE generation).