Apple opens U1 Chip for developers with a new ‘Nearby Interaction’ framework


Apple introduced a U1 chip last year in the iPhone 11 models. This chip enables Ultra Wideband support which improves spatial awareness. However, Apple has used this technology only to power a directional AirDrop feature.


Now Apple has plans to open up the U1 chip for developers which will include a new “Nearby Interaction” framework in the latest release of the iOS i.e., iOS 14. This framework will have the ability to stream the distance and relative direction between two devices that use the U1 chip. It will offer some exciting new spatial-related features and user experiences.

This new feature will only function if the user grants permission to let their iPhone be found by nearby devices. Apple also gives an example of this new option. A taxi driver and a customer can use this feature to identify the relative location of both the driver and the customer in a rideshare app.

Apple also says that the iPhones should be in portrait orientation so that the distance and direction are accurately measured. If one iPhone is in portrait orientation and the other is in the landscape, the results will not be accurate.

Photo of author

Samantha Wiley

Samantha is a senior news editor at iLounge. She has been covering the technology industry for over five years, writing about Apple, Google, and other major companies. Samantha has also worked as a reporter and editor for several other publications.