When Apple released the first iPhone, the underlying appeal was the fact that you finally had a device that could mimic the function of a PC, but fit in your pocket. The main innovation was the operating system which Apple adapted from their regular desktop version. It allowed users to interact with various apps in an intuitive way, plus the internet, just like regular OS.
For the last thirteen years or so, Apple has been riding on the coattails of this innovation, improving both software and hardware along the way. The iPhone 1 and iPhone X are very different devices, but a part of the same pedigree. You can see how one led to the other.
The iPhone 12, though, is a very different proposition. This handset seems to be Apple’s attempt to prove that smartphones haven’t plateaued. And there’s plenty to be excited about – so much so that I might sell my iPhone 8 plus.
UWB Pulse Technology
If you haven’t come across the UWB acronym yet, you’re about to start hearing a lot more about it. Apple plans on introducing this brand new technology to upcoming hands, giving users capabilities that they never imagined they’d have.
UWB stands for “ultra wide-band” and allows users to map their physical environments in three dimensions. An emitter sends out a signal in all directions into the background. It then measures the time it takes to bounce back off physical objects. It’s the same system boats, and submarines use to map the ocean floor, except a thousand times smaller than the cumbersome devices that they use.
UWB, Apple hopes, will open up a range of new capabilities. The company says that it wants to introduce “room-scale” GPS, providing more detail in the maps it gives customers for navigation. Eventually, it could use environmental scanning to help people find their way through buildings or forests.
The fact that Apple is introducing this technology so early is a little weird, to say the least. Usually, the company lags well behind others in the industry. For instance, Apple introduced GPS only after other companies had been using it for years. The company was also slow to update its Bluetooth standard. It took ages to move from 3.0 to 4.0.
Find Missing Items
Apple also sees the technology as a solution for finding missing stuff. You can get tags right now you attach to things that you’re liable to lose – such as keys, wallets, and even children. But actually determining their precise location in a built environment isn’t easy. There’s stuff everywhere.
UWB pulse technology, though, allows you to pinpoint an object in 3D space, meaning that lost keys will soon become a thing of the past (so long as you attach a suitable tag).
Of course, Apple is keen to emphasize the other techs that they’ll be introducing, but UWB is brand new. Theoretically, users could use their phones to scan objects and then send files to 3D printers. It’s a brave new world.