Apple AirTags to Launch Later This Year, Despite Early Announcement

iPhone 12 Pro and Apple Tag Trackers Credit: EverythingApplePro
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We already know that Apple AirTags are on the horizon. Now, we might be getting a clearer picture of their release timeline.

While previous reports have indicated that the Apple tracking tags could see an announcement in the first half of the year, an investors note penned by TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo could push the actual release date further out.

AirTags Potential Release Schedule

Kuo first predicted that AirTags could arrive in the first half of this year back in January, but he didn’t provide any additional details or a more specific timeline.

While today’s TF Securities research note doesn’t explicitly forecast a rollout date, it does include some supply chain information that could hint at an actual release schedule later in the year.

The research note claims that Shanghai-based manufacturer Universal Scientific Industrial has been tapped as the primary supplier of the system-in-package chips for the upcoming AirTags.

Interestingly, Kuo notes that the firm will begin making and shipping those components to Apple in the second and third quarters of the year, with shipments expected to reach tens of millions by the end of 2020.

That obviously brings up an issue with the idea of a March or April release date. But if you look at Apple’s track record of first-generation product releases, the timeline might make more sense.

In short, Apple typically announces new first-generation products at least a few months before their actual release.

HomePod, for example, was announced in June 2017 but dropped in February 2018. Apple Watch debuted in September 2014 but launched later in April 2015.

Because of that, there’s a good chance that AirTags won’t actually arrive in-store or on customer doorsteps until later in the year — even if they are announced in March or June.

Speaking of which, AirTags could see an announcement at WWDC ’20 this year, which typically takes place in early June. A potential Apple keynote on March 31 is also a possible candidate.

What We Know About AirTags

As far as AirTags themselves, they’re largely expected to be small, circular Bluetooth tracking tags that also include Ultra-Wideband (UWB) functionality for pinpoint precision when tracking.

Users will be able to attach AirTags to everyday items like keys or bags. From there, they’ll be able to locate them in the Find My app. The use of UWB will offer much better accuracy, and Apple is expected to throw augmented reality features into the mix, such as using a floating balloon to indicate a lost item’s location in an iPhone’s viewfinder.

Like similar tracking tags, AirTags will also likely have boundary settings, safe locations and user-replaceable batteries. The feature set and advanced capabilities are already making competitors a bit nervous.

In today’s research note, Kuo says that TF Securities believes that “the ultra-wideband (UWB) tag will enhance the user experience of iOS’s ‘find’ and augmented reality applications by offering measurement functions in the short distance.”

Kuo also likened the system-in-package chip in AirTags to the one in AirPods, stating that they’ll be a densely packed circuit board that’s likely to also pack an Apple-designed U1 chip for UWB functionality.

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