Last year Apple merged its longstanding device- and friend-tracking apps, Find My iPhone and Find My Friends, into a new unified “Find My” app that brought the functionality of both services under a single roof while adding a few new features and laying the groundwork for several other things that Apple is rumoured to be working on, including Apple’s long-rumoured AirTags.
Now some more new code found in iOS 14 by 9to5Mac reveals that Apple is planning on doing a bit more with Find My this year that will likely pave the way both for AirTags and Apple’s upcoming AR headset.
New Time-Based Location Triggers
From its very beginnings, the Find My Friends app has supported the ability to set triggers for when your friends either arrive at, or depart from, a specific location, or when they were simply near your own. For years, this could be done surreptitiously — your friends were never made aware that you had asked to be notified of their location (although they obviously had to agree to share it with you in the first place) — however in iOS 13 last year Apple began notifying your friends when you’re tracking them.
Now with that out of the way, it looks like iOS 14 could be adding more options for getting notified about your friends’ movements, or more specifically about their lack of movement.
According the code that 9to5Mac has found, you’ll be able to set a time and place alert for when one of your friends doesn’t show up at a location when they’re supposed to be there. There also appears to be a setting to offer notifications for when a contact leaves a location before a specified time.
These new features seem like they would be handy for tracking routine movements of family members, such as kids arriving at school or coming home from school, or a spouse/partner arriving at or leaving work. Rather than getting a barrage of daily notifications for your family’s normal routines, users would be able to opt to only be notified when something unusual happens instead.
It also appears that you would be able to set these notifications on a recurring basis. Currently, notifications can only be set to fire off the next time a person arrives at or departs from a specific location, and they have to therefore be recreated — complete with another tracking notification — every time you want to reuse them.
Apple is getting even more serious about augmented reality — consider that it was really the marquee feature of the new iPad Pro — so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that it’s also laying the foundation for a new AR mode in the iOS 14 Find My app.
It’s not yet clear how (or if) this will work directly on an iPhone or iPad, but according to 9to5Mac, the ARKit frameworks in iOS 14 include a “headset mode” for the Find My app.
Right now it looks like this would be primarily designed for Apple’s AirTags, to allow them to be located more precisely in a room, but with Apple’s addition of Ultra Wideband support on recent iPhones, there’s no reason this couldn’t extend to helping you locate your iPhone or even your friends who happen to be toting their iPhones much more precisely. Imagine a scenario where Apple’s AR glasses could direct you straight to a friend or family member in a busy shopping mall or stadium.
While the new code in iOS 14 definitely points to some exciting things for later this year, it’s also important to take these findings with a grain of salt, as sometimes Apple lays the groundwork for features long before they’re ready to deliver the matching hardware. For instance, we saw evidence of AirTags in iOS 13 code last June, and we’re still waiting for those to arrive.