More on Tile’s Complaints About Apple in Congressional Testimony

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors, reports that Tile is complaining about Find My too:

The smaller companies are aiming to provide evidence that the tech giants have become too big and have practices in place that stifle competition and hurt sales. Tile in particular is gunning for Apple, claiming that Apple’s iOS 13 Bluetooth and location tracking devices have hurt its business, and that Find My resembles Tile’s own service.

Find My — originally Find My iPhone — has been around since 2010. And it seems like weak sauce to argue that it’s a feature Apple shouldn’t be able to provide on antitrust grounds. Putting aside Apple’s rumored dedicated location-tracking tile dinguses, if Tile’s business has been hurt by iOS 13 and Find My, their business was in bad shape to start.

It seems one of Tile’s specific complaints is related to the changes in iOS 13 that discourage third-party apps from having “Always Allow” access to location data. Apple has been pushing for apps to use “Only While Using the App”, and, when apps do use “Always Allow”, iOS will periodically remind you which apps are doing so in the background, and how often. And to turn on “Always Allow” access, the user must do so in the Privacy section of Settings — the app itself can’t prompt for it. Apple’s statement seems to suggest they’re reconsidering that.

Remember Apple’s priorities: Apple first, users second, developers third. Developers of location-tracking apps might be peeved by iOS 13’s changes, but users are much better off. A lot of apps that were asking for “Always Allow” location access were not doing so with the users’ interests at heart.

There’s just no way a third-party tile tracking product will be as integrated with iOS as an Apple product would be. It’s like rival smart watch makers complaining that Apple Watch’s integration with iPhone is unfair. Same with AirPods. At some level it is unfair, but what’s the alternative? You’re either asking for Apple (and other big platform vendors) to be severely hamstrung from innovating with integrated new products, or you’re asking for third-parties to be given low-level access to the OS on mobile platforms — a privacy and security nightmare.

There are definitely good antitrust arguments to be made against all of the tech giants, including Apple, but I don’t think Tile is a good example.

Friday, 17 January 2020