We’ve already seen more than enough indications in recent iOS versions indicating that Apple’s AirTags should be coming very soon, but now a new leak from an internal build is giving us a more accurate glimpse of what the highly anticipated item tracking tags will actually look like.
The information comes via prolific leaker Jon Prosser, who shared a 3D animation that he says came “from a software engineer” — presumably within Apple — that will likely be incorporated into a future iOS version as part of the pairing process for the tags, much like AirPods appear during their initial set up.
While Prosser claims that he previously got his hands on a video “of the real deal,” he was unable to share it in order to protect his source. Instead, he made renders of what he saw in the video and shared those back in September.
This time around, however, Prosser says that what he’s sharing is an official internal video from Apple — “the actual thing from Apple themselves” — and while it’s still not a video of the actual AirTags hardware, it’s a 3D animation that’s presumably been created to look exactly the same.
Since the design of the AirTags shown in the video lines up with Prosser’s earlier renders, there aren’t too many surprises here, so if the source is accurate, this serves as confirmation as to what the design of the new AirTags will be, and also provide a bit more detail and polish from the earlier renders.
Prosser once again insists that the AirTags are “ready to go” but offers another theory as to why Apple hasn’t chosen to release them yet:
I’m hearing the reason for all this is directly related to the pandemic. AirTags are made to work based off of the Apple ecosystem — an overall network. They’re made to ping off of iPhones — other people’s iPhones — whenever you’re out and about, at a restaurant, at a mall, whatever. That way if you leave an AirTag behind, you’ll be able to get the most accurate and latest location. With the pandemic happening right now, well, there’s no one leaving the house. You don’t need AirTags right now because if you lost something, it’s probably in your house; at least that’s what Apple thinks.Jon Prosser, Front Page Tech
According to Prosser’s sources, Apple is still expecting to release them in the spring, perhaps because they feel that things might get better by then, although it also doesn’t sound like they’re willing to keep on pushing AirTags back either.
While Prosser’s theory certainly makes a lot of sense, it may not be the only reason. Considering that all the screens found in iOS 14.4 refer to generic item tracking tags, it’s clear that Apple is preparing to launch its full Find My network very soon, and having at least one third-party product on board would go a long way toward heading off the antitrust allegations that AirTags’ chief competitor, Tile has already been making for almost a year now.
Still, with almost two years having gone by since we first heard about Apple’s plans for its item tracking tags, everything is up in the air at this point, and if Prosser’s information about Apple having concerns with the pandemic is accurate, we might not see AirTags until COVID-19 is history.