In September 2019, Apple added a new feature to the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro without saying a single word onstage — and it did it again today with the Apple Watch Series 6.
The feature is Apple’s U1 ultra-wideband locator chip, which could let these devices find each other, find other gadgets equipped with similar tech, and even securely unlock your car and your door without ever pulling an iPhone out of your pocket.
The feature flashed by for a brief moment during today’s presentation, buried in this slide that we just barely managed to screencap:
And perusing the official Apple Watch specs comparison page, we can see that it’s only the $399 Series 6 that’s getting the U1 chip, not the new Apple Watch SE. It’s not in the Series 5, either, and it was missing from the 2020 iPhone SE announcement as well.
It’s not clear when Apple will actually do something meaningful with this functionality, which is probably why the company hasn’t made a big deal out of it so far. Apple is hoping to add it to its digital car keys idea in the not-too-distant future, and it’s part of a consortium pushing that tech. But it’s not clear if any automakers are on board: the first iteration of the Digital Key idea will rely on tapping an NFC equipped device to your car.
It also might help Apple create a powerful way to find lost items. Apple recently offered an olive branch to companies that sell GPS and Bluetooth-based trackers by offering to extend its Find My network to their devices, and it has long been rumored to be working on an “AirTag” device that you could use like a more accurate Tile tracker. You’d stick it onto an object or throw it in your bag, and your U1 device could theoretically show you exactly where your remote control, purse, keys, or laptop bag is hiding.
But so far, the U1 has been laughably limited to a way to share photos with another iPhone user in the same room. Here’s hoping that, at the very least, Apple will let your iPhone and Watch find one another soon.
The FCC’s new anti-robocall rules prevent surprise charges for consumers
Back in March, the FCC ordered all carriers and phone companies to adopt the STIR/SHAKEN protocol by June 30th, 2021 as an effort to combat robocalls. Now, the commission has announced new rules to clarify carriers’ obligations regarding the technology’s implementation. One of those new rules, for instance, protects consumers from surprise charges. To be precise, it prohibits voice service providers from adding line-item charges to their bills for caller ID authentication.
The FCC is also requiring providers to upgrade their networks if they currently can’t implement STIR/SHAKEN, which is an Internet Protocol standard for IP-based networks. Otherwise, they’ll have to develop a non-IP caller ID verification solution. That said, the FCC will give small voice providers that can’t adopt the technology yet “limited extensions,” so long as they implement robocall mitigation programs.
Google Meet’s 60-minute limit on free calls won’t kick in until 2021
Google expanded Meet’s availability earlier this year to give more people access to the video chat service in the midst of coronavirus-related lockdowns. The tech giant didn’t just make it available to everyone with a Gmail account, though, it also made its premium features accessible at no cost until September 30th. One of those premium features is the ability to make unlimited calls, without which users would have to deal with a 60-minute limit per call. The good news is that free Gmail users won’t have to worry about call limits tomorrow or anytime soon: the tech giant has extended their access to unlimited Meet calls until March 31st, 2021.
In a post announcing the extension, Meet Group Product Manager Samir Pradhan said Google wants to “continue helping those who rely on Meet to stay in touch” over the holiday season, especially since not everyone can travel to be with their families and friends. The post also talks about Meet’s recent feature additions, including the ability to cast Meet calls on TV, to join calls hands-free on the Nest Hub Max and to blur backgrounds. More recently, Google has also rolled out noise cancellation for Meet on Android and iOS to filter out background sounds for those who prefer taking video calls on their mobile devices.
What's on TV: 'Super Mario,' 'Star Wars: Squadrons' and 'Walking Dead'
After the debates, there are some entertaining things to put on your TV this week. In case you missed it, we’re adding another new service to the mix with AMC+, which launches Thursday and will feature new episodes of The Walking Dead and its newest…
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