One of the understated components of Apple’s iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro is the new U1 chip.
It didn’t get a prominent callout onstage at today’s announcement event, but it will underpin what Apple says are “amazing new capabilities” coming to iOS devices in the future, including a more accurate, directional version of AirDrop coming with iOS 13.
The “U” in U1 stands for “ultra-wideband,” which is the technology Apple is using to power new location tracking features for its smartphones and, hopefully soon, other accessories, too.
The U1 chip effectively lets the newest iPhone locate and communicate with other U1 devices in a more accurate and speedy fashion.
Apple didn’t promote the U1 onstage, but it does have its own slide in the iPhone 11 promotional materials on Apple’s website. There, it’s described as underpinning the new directional version of AirDrop that takes into account where you’re pointing your phone in relation to the device with which you’re trying to share files. “Think GPS at the scale of your living room,” Apple writes. “So 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.”
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