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Earlier this week, Apple surprised us by dropping the announcement that it’s new Find My network is officially going live, and while Apple’s much-rumoured AirTags are still nowhere in sight, the company did unveil three new third-party manufacturers that will soon be shipping products that tie directly into Apple’s item tracking ecosystem.
The first Find My partners are actually a somewhat eclectic collection of companies and products, including traditional Bluetooth item tracking tags by Chipolo, a new set of true wireless earbuds by Belkin, and a pair of premium e-bikes by VanMoof.
All three companies are also proudly brandishing the new “Works with Apple Find My” logo on their product pages, and although none of these products are expected to ship before June, it’s a good start for what Apple is clearly hoping to accomplish with its new Find My network.
In fact, when you think about the idea, it’s considerably more ambitious and exciting than what we’ve been expecting since we first heard about Apple’s own AirTags two years ago. After all, even though AirTags would almost certainly bring something new to the concept, they’re ultimately just Apple’s own take on something that other companies like Tile have been doing for years.
On the other hand, creating a third-party ecosystem that can embrace a whole range of consumer products seems like something that only Apple could pull off thanks to having the popularity of the iPhone behind it.
So, while Apple’s rivals are still focusing on either enhancing their existing tags or getting their feet wet with new ones, the Find My network has taken a quantum leap ahead by convincing other manufacturers to build its technology directly into their products — no tags required.
How It All Works
While it looks like we’ll have to wait until at least June to get our hands on any of these products, Dutch e-bike maker VanMoof has shared a short 27-second video giving us a glimpse into how the feature will work on its S3 and X3 models.
The clip feels more like a “quick start how to” tutorial than a marketing video, but it’s still enough to get use Apple fans interesting in VanMoof’s products. It does a neat job of showing the process of pairing the e-bike to the Find My app on an iPhone 12 and then subsequently using the app to locate it.
The connecting and pairing process shows the screens that we’ve already been seeing tucked away in iOS 14 betas for a few months, except that now we can actually see beyond the “Searching” screen to see what happens when you actually have a Find My compatible device to pair up.
The video shows the user pressing a button on the side of the bike frame to begin the process, which results in a series of flashing LEDs, after which the Find My app detects a “VanMoof S3 & X3” e-bike, which the Find My app clearly identifies it as a bicycle and not just a generic item.
After connecting to the bike, the user is asked to provide an “emoji and name that best represents your item.” A bike emoji is shown by default in this case, although that can presumably be customized to any other emoji of the user’s choice.
The next screen asks the user to confirm that they want to register the bike to their Apple ID. A ten-digit code is shown that’s likely intended to correspond to a number on the bike itself. Although the video isn’t entirely clear on the purpose of showing this code, it doesn’t seem that the user is required to scan or enter it — it’s merely shown for confirmation purposes.
Once the e-bike has been paired, a final screen shows its location (“With You”), and the available Find My features, including getting directions to it in Apple Maps, playing a sound, or putting it into Lost Mode.
The video then goes on to show us what the “Items” screen in the Find My app looks like once you have at least one item paired up, showing the VanMoof e-bike in a list, with its location, and a map above. Additional options allow you to add a new item, or “Identify Found Item.”
This last option can be used by anyone who happens across a lost Find My compatible item to get additional information about it. This also works hand-in-hand with Lost Mode, allowing the owner to leave a message and phone number for anybody who finds it and scans it with the Find My app. It’s unclear what information is available to a finder if the owner hasn’t put the item in Lost Mode.
Lastly, the video shows that even a VanMoof e-bike can emit a sound to help the owner locate it, much like how Find My AirPods works. While this seems like an odd feature for something as large as an e-bike, it may be a requirement of Apple’s “Works with Find My” program. We’ll have to wait and see if Chipolo’s ONE Spot tags will also be able to emit a sound.