iPhone 11 Lineup Comes With a New U1 Ultra-Wideband Chip for Precise AirDrop Transfers

iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max models were announced at Apple’s special event in Cupertino last night. While Apple usually announces all the major new features in its new iPhone models during the keynote, some of the smaller details have to be left out due to time constraints. One of the new, interesting features that are coming with the iPhone 11 series is the new U1 locator chip. Apple claimed its iOS devices will receive ‘amazing new capabilities’ this year, and this certainly looks like one of them

The new U1 locator chip present inside the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max is basically an ultra-wideband chip that helps increase spatial awareness. It can power next-generation location tracking features on smartphones and compatible accessories.

One use case that Apple is already talking about for the U1 locator chip is a faster, much more accurate, directional use of AirDrop with iOS 13 and the new iPhone 11 series phones. The U1 chip will be able to easily communicate with nearby devices using the same chip, letting users transfer data easily to one another.

Ultra-wideband transmits data that doesn’t interface with the existing narrowband or carrier wave transmissions. The technology is designed to transmit data over a large bandwidth of over 500MHz.

Apple describes the feature as, “Think GPS at the scale of your living room. So if you want to share a file with someone using AirDrop, just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be the first on the list.”

With iOS 13.1 coming out on September 30, the new iPhone 11 models will be able to use the U1 chip to simply point their phone towards someone else with a U1-equipped phone and transfer files over AirDrop with higher priority. The feature makes more sense if you’re placed in a crowded room and quickly need to share content wirelessly.

However, that’s just one use case of the many possibilities that the ultra-wideband chip offers. Apple was previously rumoured to introduce a new tracking accessory but the Cupertino-based company didn’t announce such a product during its special event on Tuesday.

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