Apple’s new watches get UWB upgrade

SERIES 9: Leverages ultra wideband for new interactions with Apple’s HomePod speakers

The latest versions of Apple’s smartwatches — the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 — feature a new ultra wideband (UWB) chip to deliver precision location services.

“A second-generation ultra wideband chip enables new integration with HomePod,” explains Apple. “When music is playing, Apple Watch Series 9 opens the Now Playing screen to let you control it. If nothing is playing, the Smart Stack will offer media suggestions to play on HomePod.”

“Also enabled by the second-generation ultra wideband chip, Precision Finding can now direct you to your iPhone by showing you its approximate distance and direction,” continues the Cupertino-based phone maker. “And when you get close, haptic feedback, an audible chirp, and a visual indicator help you zero in on it.”

UWB’s ability to provide high precision location data is also the key to other functionalities; in keyless entry applications for cars for example, Bluetooth LE is enough to ascertain that the driver is in proximity to the vehicle, but UWB can tell which door they are approaching. 

Meanwhile, Dutch bank ING tested UWB contactless payments in an internal trial in 2022.

Apple watches have come with UWB since 2020’s Series 6. Apple’s Watch Series 9 and its rugged sibling Apple Watch Ultra 2 were announced this week and will be available at retail from 22 September 2023.

• Daniel Knobloch, vice president of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and wireless systems architect at BMW of North America, has recorded a presentation on the current status and future outlook for digital car keys for Contactless World Congress. Watch it here.

Apple’s new watches get UWB upgrade was written by Mike Clark and published by NFCW.