How the iPhone 11’s U1 chip will change everything

Apple is bringing ultra-wideband capabilities to its iPhone 11 -- and it promises to be a game-changer (eventually) for everything from healthcare to smart cities thanks to its location accuracy, reliably and security.

Apple didn’t say much about ultra wideband (UWB) when it introduced support for the technology in the iPhone 11’s U1 chip on September 10. The Apple website simply states:

“The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses UWB technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 to understand its precise location relative to other nearby U1‑equipped Apple devices. Think GPS at the scale of your living room.”

Apple hasn’t said what it plans to do with the technology, nor has it discussed how standards-compliant its implementation is.

The only use it shares is AirDrop: “If you want to share a file with someone using AirDrop, just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.”

While that sounds nice, it doesn’t really justify adoption of a new standard all on its own, a point Apple concedes, saying, “That’s just the beginning.”

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