Apple's impressive Find My network will help you find your lost Apple devices more easily than ever. In fact, adding an AirTag to them can help you reunite with your belongings.
But what exactly is the Find My network and why is it so exciting? We'll look at that.
What is Apple's Find My Network?
Apple's Find My network is a peer-to-peer network that consists of every Apple device that has the Find My feature enabled. In the spring of 2021, Apple claimed these were nearly a billion different devices.
Each of these devices can connect to another Apple device, AirTag, or other third-party bluetooth tracker if it's nearby and send information about its location back to Apple.
This is how the Find My Network works
Devices on the Find My network can detect Bluetooth signals from other compatible Apple devices if they are within Bluetooth range (approximately 15 meters). Apple then forwards these signals through its system to relay the location of the missing device to its owner.
In addition to Bluetooth, the U1 chip in some Apple devices enables the precise acquisition of location data. Using ultra-wideband radio waves, this chip can determine the location of a device by measuring the time it takes for this radio wave to travel between the device and other nearby Apple devices.
Since there may be multiple Find My-enabled devices in one area, a lost Apple device can ping multiple devices. This will help pinpoint a more accurate location and can be especially useful when you are out and about.
The location and the Bluetooth signals are securely forwarded in the background via Apple devices.
Data protection in the Find My Network
After hearing your Apple device connect to devices owned by random people, or your iPhone reporting your location to AirTag owners, you might be a little concerned about the privacy issues. You don't need to worry.
The device identifiers involved in Bluetooth connections from an Apple device change regularly to prevent anyone from monitoring and possibly intercepting the signal. Nobody can track your devices through the Find My network using these identifiers.
Another privacy feature of the Find My network is that all data submitted to Apple is completely anonymous. This means that the second your AirTag pings an iPhone, for example, the information for both devices remains completely hidden from Apple.
If you keep this information anonymous to begin with, no personal information will be shared over the network or Apple systems. It also means that the owner of a missing device cannot see what other devices on the network have been used.
Why Find My Network is exciting
Apple's Find My network is really exciting. It uses the peer-to-peer network, in which devices form a network by connecting to each other. It's similar to peer-to-peer file sharing.
There is a great advantage in using peer-to-peer networks. You can extend the reach of a network infinitely. This means that no matter where in the world you left something with an AirTag, there should always be an Apple device around to help you find it.
That's pretty cool, isn't it?
However, it is not a truly independent peer-to-peer network as the Find My network is still based on Apple's relaying system. However, it's still a brilliant implementation of the technology and an important step forward.
Another reason the Find My network is so exciting is the introduction of a brand new system for finding the location of Bluetooth trackers.
Previously, a bluetooth tracker needed a GPS system to figure out where it was when it was disconnected from a paired phone. This never happened because it was too complicated for a system. You would have needed a special GPS tracker.
The Find My network uses the small U1 chip in AirTags and the additional hardware in other devices to determine an exact location. Not only does this simplify the usability, it also makes the manufacturing process easier for Apple.
The ability to get such an accurate location with so little hardware is not only impressive, it also improves the quality of the location. This generally creates a much better system that gives users a higher quality experience.
The future of the place
The My Find network seems to point to the future of location awareness. Any Apple device can determine its location by pinging signals to other Apple devices nearby on the network. Using a peer-to-peer network and ultra-broadband device location in this way is almost exclusive to Apple.
If all locations are determined this way in the future, finding lost devices will be much easier, more precise, and potentially much cheaper.
Photo credit: Apple
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About the author
(31 articles published)
Connor is a UK-based technology editor. After writing for online publications for a few years, he now spends time in the world of tech startups. He recently started writing again. Connor is primarily focused on iOS, has a passion for technology and is particularly enthusiastic about new technologies. When Connor isn't working, he likes to spend time cooking, various fitness activities, and a little Netflix with a glass of red.
From Connor Jewiss
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