As part of WWDC last month, Apple announced that iOS 16 will allow third-party accessories with U1 chip integration to interact with iPhone apps even when the app is running in the background, enabling new “hands-free user experiences.”


In a press release today, chipmaker Qorvo said this new functionality will allow U1-enabled accessories to work in tandem with iOS 16 apps to trigger real-time actions based on your precise location, such as turning on lights or playing music when you enter a room, even if you aren’t actively using the apps at the time.

Qorvo also announced that its Ultra Wideband chips are now certified by Apple’s MFi Program, which should pave the way for MFi-certified U1-enabled accessories from third-party brands. Accessory makers can use Qorvo’s chips to create accessories that are compatible with U1-equipped iPhone and Apple Watch models.

Apple’s own accessories also offer precise, directionally-aware experiences. For example, users can hold a U1-equipped iPhone near a HomePod mini to “hand off” music playback, complete with visual, audible, and haptic effects. U1-enabled iPhones can also take advantage of the Precision Finding feature that makes it easier to locate an AirTag.

Built into iPhone 11 models and newer, Apple Watch Series 6 models and newer, the HomePod mini, and the AirTag, Apple’s U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for ultra-precise spatial awareness within close distances.

More details are available on the Nearby Interactions with U1 page on Apple’s developer website.

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