Why Does Tile Think That Competition With The Apple AirTag Is Unfair?

·4 min read

Apple AirTag, the nifty new tracker launched alongside the new iPhone 12 in Purple, the new iMacs as well as the updated iPad Pros, have really caught a lot of attention. They are sleek, they seem quite easy to set up and they are nifty. Add to that, more than a billion iPhone users globally could potentially be able to set this up in minutes and track stuff that they are most likely to misplace. Keys, wallets, backpacks, pouches, folders and whatever else that you may absentmindedly forget. And that’s causing a bit of a stir over at Tile, the company that also makes Bluetooth trackers that do pretty much the same thing. Allow you to keep a tab of things that in a less smart world, would have been categorized as misplaced. The company has not been missing any chance to call the competition with Apple AirTag unfair.

Let us first understand what the AirTag trackers are. The Apple AirTag are incredibly cool, there is no doubt about it. These trackers will be able to help you trace things that may have gone missing around you, get you step by step navigation in the direction you should be heading to and will have an incredibly long battery life as well. These will plug into the Find My app on your iPhone and is great news of you keep misplacing your keys or wallet, for instance. Apple will be selling the AirTag as a single piece for Rs 3,190 or you can buy a pack of 4 AirTag trackers for Rs 10,900. You can now order the AirTag on the Apple India online store with shipping happening now. Mind you, your Apple iPhone will need iOS 14.5 for these to work, so do update beforehand and also take advantage of the new privacy measures to prevent apps from tracking you across the breadth of the World Wide Web. The thing is, that’s pretty much exactly what Tile trackers are supposed to do, and do.

Tile’s criticisms stem from the fact that the company believes Apple has an unfair advantage, and it is two-pronged. First, the Find My app and ecosystem as well as the way iOS handles giving location data to third party apps on the iPhone. Tile believes that Apple has the advantage of plugging in the AirTag trackers into the Find My app, which now becomes competition for Tile. There’s the added advantage of AirTag using the Apple U1 chip in the newer iPhones. Secondly, the company has been pointing to the changes that Apple has made with iOS over the past few updates with regard to how location services permissions work for third party apps, and now it is not as straightforward for apps to get a user’s location on a permanent basis. It is these privacy changes that changed what was a very good corporate relationship between Apple and Tile. Prober has been on record with Bloomberg as saying that the privacy changes and the access to location data changed in a way that it would appear to users that their Tile tracker was broken.

Is Tile worried? Not really, insists CJ Prober, the CEO of Tile who says in an official statement that Tile will continue to succeed. The company has more than 90% market share with millions of customers and works with more than 30 partners to enable tracking and finding technology in consumer tech. These brands include HP, Skullcandy, Fitbit and Intel, to name a few. “The reason so many people turn to Tile to locate their lost or misplaced items is because of the differentiated value we offer our consumers. In addition to providing an industry leading set of features via our app that works with iOS and Android devices, our service is seamlessly integrated with all major voice assistants, including Alexa and Google,” says the company.

While Prober says that Apple has so far denied Tile access to the U1 Ultra-Wideband chip in iPhones, Apple has in fact invited Tile to join the Find My ecosystem, which the company has refused to far because that would mean giving up their own app and features. Access to the U1 chip may be allowed at some point, but when or even if, isn’t very clear at this time. Apple has had its own say on the matter. The tech giant points out that Find My has been around since before Tile trackers came into existence. For an app that’s been around for more than a decade letting users share location with friends and locate products they may have otherwise misplaced, Apple says that, “we have worked hard to build a platform in iOS that enables third-party developers to thrive.” Tile is also part of the Coalition For App Fairness which also includes Spotify, Basecamp, Blockchain.com, Epic Games and Proton Mail, to name a few.

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