Apple AirTags launch imminent after hidden interface is found on iPhone

Use Find My to find the Find My feature Apple didn’t want you to find

AirTags in Apple's Find My app
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s AirTags may be one of the worst-kept secrets in tech right now, and it looks like their launch is imminent. A MacRumors reader, David Chu, has discovered that if you type findmy://items in Safari on iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3 or MacOS 11.1, it’ll open the hidden tab for AirTags in the Find My app. We tried it too, and it worked on iPad, iPhone and on a MacBook.

At this point, then big question is when we might finally see the mysterious tags – will they arrive in March along with the iPad Pro 2021 and MacBook Pro M1X we're expecting? Or would it be later in the year, alongside the iPhone 13?

How to find what Apple’s hiding

When you enter the address in Safari it pops up a window asking if you want to “open this tab in Find My”. If you say yes, the app will open and display the headline “Keep Track of Your Everyday Items”. On iOS and iPad you will also see three icons showing AirBags for a key, for a backpack and for a bicycle. If you then tap on Add Item, the Find My app will attempt to locate nearby AirTags.

It’s not just limited to AirTags. The search screen says “follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to make your item discoverable”, which suggests this is where third party devices will be tracked too. As we reported, Apple has extended its Find My network to include third-party manufacturers such as Belkin, whose new SoundForm Freedom true wireless earbuds can be found using the Find My app,

What we know about AirTags so far

AirTags are Tile-style smart tags that can help you locate lost or missing items. They’re expected to use a mix of Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband radio signals to help you track items’ location, and the Find My app is reportedly getting augmented reality features to make it even easier to find things. 

The idea behind the tags is that you’ll put them on anything you’re prone to losing, whether that’s your car keys, your handbag or a small child.

We’ve described AirTags as the worst-kept secret in tech because the biggest leak about them came from none other than Apple. In early 2020 it accidentally mentioned them in a video it uploaded to its Apple Support YouTube channel, saying that a feature in the Find My app “enables this device and AirTags to be found when not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular.”

Why did Apple open up the Find My network?

When AirTags were first accidentally announced Find My was only available for use with Apple devices, but that changed with the launch of iOS 14. When Apple launched iOS 14 it opened up the Find My network to third parties, enabling their devices to be tracked with the same app as Apple products. 

In what may or may not be a coincidence, rival tag maker Tile had told EU regulators in 2020 that Apple was engaging in anti-competitive practices with its Find My app, claiming that “Apple has taken several steps to completely disadvantage Tile”. In particular, it said that Apple had “both launched a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile and also began preparing for the launch of a competitive hardware product.” Apple, of course, strenuously denied the allegations.