Apple is considering to expand its Find My Network to third-party gadgets

Apple is expanding the Find My tracking service to devices other than iOS-based devices. It is launching a new accessory program with the release of iOS 14 that will let users locate non iOS devices, similar to those of Tile. Many third-party trackers will become much more useful because they will be integrated into the network of millions of iOS devices that help people find their lost gadgets.

Tile’s tracking devices ensure that that the items, they are attached to, do not get left behind by alerting the users if the device is about to leave the close range, making it easier to keep track of items. The users of Tile’s tracking network also get alerted when they are in the range of tracker marked as missing by its user. This can be greatly upgraded by integration in Apple’s already huge network of users.

The new program requires hardware manufacturers to follow specifications for Apple’s devices so that they are qualified to join the Find My network. However, these specifications are not yet complete just like iOS 14. Third-party trackers will be certified through Apple’s Made for iPhone program.

The Find My network relies on the millions of Apple devices already existing. This will help to locate missing items a lot. It is very similar to crowdsourced location tracking where a person’s iPhone comes in the range of an iPad that has been marked as missing, triggering a Bluetooth signal that updates the said iPad’s location in Find My network. This updated location is sent to the original owner who can then approximately estimate where the missing device is.

Apple makes it very difficult for companies like Tile to have the same tracking abilities as Find My by default so third-party trackers have not been able to take advantage of this network. This is because these third-party apps have to request permission from iOS users to monitor their GPS locations. Tile has complained to lawmakers in Congress about Apple, whose behavior is pretty much anti-competitive as Find My has these permissions by default and it is also expected that Apple will soon release its tracking tiles. The accidental leaks of “AirTag” tracking devices by the company on YouTube caused this speculation.

It is still not clear if Tile wants to participate in the Find My program as it is still following Apple’s rules and working within its bounds. However, Tile trackers will become more useful for the users if they can take advantage of the vast Find My network and its permissive location tracking.

However, Apple still faces the anti-trust investigation under the European Union, where regulators are inspecting if the company holds too much power and control over the developers in its App Store.

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