Apple is not a stranger to claims of anticompetitive behavior, and according to Tile things have not gotten better with Apple in recent months.
On Wednesday, Tile spoke in front of a congressional panel (via Reuters) and said that Apple has not lived up to promises made between the two companies, and, in fact, has relied on changes to iOS that would hurt Tile’s overall business. This is a continuation of an argument that Tile made against Apple back in January of this year, one which Tile believes Apple has not lived up to its end of a bargain struck between Apple and third-party companies in general.
Tile has made it clear that, up until last year, it had a mutually beneficial relationship with Apple. Things began to deteriorate when reports started to surface that Apple was building an accessory that would essentially directly compete with the Tile tracker, the small device that allows customers locate missing items.
Unfortunately, since that hearing, Apple’s anti-competitive behaviors have gotten worse, not better,” Tile said in a statement to the committee posted online on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Tile said that Apple’s change to iOS that requires users to repeatedly agree to use Tile in the background so that they can track their tagged devices was essentially not helpful in the slightest. Tile has to be able to work in the background or its functionality is severely diminished, and obviously Tile is not a fan of this.
Apple issued a statement on the matter back then, talking about user security and privacy, and so on. But the kicker was the most important part to Tile, because Apple said that it was “working with developers” to enable the “Always Allow” functionality for third-party apps to use, just like they had been allowed to previously. Here’s that statement:
Apple builds its hardware, software, and system level apps to protect user privacy and provide the best products and ecosystem in the world. Apple has not built a business model around knowing a customer’s location or the location of their device.
When setting up a new device users can choose to turn on Location Services to help find a lost or misplaced device with Find My iPhone, an app that users have come to rely on since 2010. Customers have control over their location data, including the location of their device. If a user doesn’t want to enable these features, there’s a clear, easy to understand setting where they can choose exactly which location services they want enabled or disabled.
In regard to third-party apps, we created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for developers. We continually work with developers and take their feedback on how to help protect user privacy while also providing the tools developers need to make the best app experiences.
We’re currently working with developers interested in enabling the “Always Allow” functionality to enable that feature at the time of setup in a future software update.
Tile said today that, so far, Apple has not lived up to that statement:
Despite Apple’s multiple promises to reinstate ‘Always Allow’ background permissions option for third party apps’ geolocation services, Apple has not yet done so.
The company also says there have been indications that Apple is planning to update its Find My app and add hardware, a signal that it’s building a direct competitor to Tile. Of course, Apple has not officially announced anything yet, but there have been plenty of rumors suggesting that this is indeed something Apple is working on.
AirTags is that rumored accessory, which has been showcased in one way or another –without an official announcement– for months now. For instance, back in October we saw what was reported to be the setup process for the accessory, which sees its functionality baked into the Find My app. And earlier this year we heard analyst Ming-Chi Kuo say that AirTags production could ramp up in the first half of 2020 with a fall launch expected.
Tile seems confident in the idea that Apple is going to launch a competitor to its tracking product in the near future, and it is not happy that Apple has not stuck to its plan to enable “Always Allow” functionality for third-party apps again. Will things change in the near future? We’ll have to wait and see.
Are you a Tile user? Has Apple recent changes to iOS made using the accessory far more frustrating for you? Let us know in the comments below.