There were many announcements at Apple’s Wunderlust event. The iPhone did especially well with major camera upgrades, Dynamic Island across the line, a new Action button and USB-C. But the change that captured my attention was the debut of Apple’s second-generation Ultra Wideband chip. Which might sound oddly niche and specific, so let me explain.
Some time ago, I turned ‘I walked into this room and now have no idea why’ years old. It’s not – fortunately – that my memory vanished overnight. It’s just a touch slow now and again. Twinned with my ongoing inability to get enough sleep, my recall is occasionally akin to a many-years-old PC trying desperately to run the latest Windows. A word will vanish when I’m mid-flow, smashing copy into shape, and inconveniently show up the following Tuesday, like a delivery from the world’s least efficient courier. At which point I’ll blurt out ‘kitsch’ or ‘pareidolia’ in a room full of people. Which is unfortunate.
While writing, though, this is barely an inconvenience. After all, synonyms exist. But the issue manifests elsewhere – and recently in stark fashion after a rare holiday away from home.
No-one in our household is big on jewelry and we take our gadgets with us. The most valuable thing I leave behind is data. Basically, if we have a break-in, I don’t want anyone pilfering my SSDs. So I hide them.
The snag is I do this during a last-minute packing flurry, and stash them in places that are clearly obvious and logical at the time – but less so later on. Most recently, I returned to my home workspace, instantly spotted my SSDs were missing, and realised I had no idea where they were. Go me.
Drive me up the wall
I found one lurking in a drawer beneath a pile of obsolete audio cables. The others were, inexplicably, under long-forgotten shoes at the back of a wardrobe, inside a decidedly unfestive black Christmas hat with ‘bah humbug’ sewn on it. And before you infer I’m bonkers, I mentioned this online and had several people sheepishly admit they do the same. Apart from the thing with the hat.
Hence: Ultra Wideband chips. Apple showed off its second-generation take, nestled inside the Apple Watch Series 9 and iPhone 15 line. The watch can now ping a phone with the same chip. Instead of the phone screaming for attention, the watch provides precision finding. When you’re nearby, haptics and audio help you pinpoint the phone’s exact location. And there are other goodies, such as suggestions in Smart Stack and Now Playing prompts when you’re next to a HomePod.
With iPhone, the chips beef up FindMy. Rather than vaguely seeing the whereabouts of someone who’s shared their location with you, you’re furnished with a massive arrow, as if playing a real-world version of Crazy Taxi. But without the leaping car and wanton destruction.
You see where I’m going with this? I want these Ultra Wideband chips in everything. At least everything of worth. Specifically, my SSDs. But everything else too. Sure, there will be cost considerations, but what value can you place on peace of mind (and not wasting hours turning over every room in your home while swearing about SSDs)? And with Apple’s added AI smarts, it’s only a matter of time until I’ll be able to wake my iPhone and have Siri emit an audible sigh before listing all the things I’ve misplaced. And then tell me the word I’ve forgotten for the column I’m intending to write is – with some irony – epeolatry.