Bluetooth accessory maker Tile has written to the European Union accusing Apple of abuse of power and of illegally favoring its own products.
According to a report by Financial Times, in a letter sent on Tuesday to the European Commissioner for Competition, the accessory maker said that Apple is making it harder for users to use Tile products on iPhone because it has its own rival Find My app.
In a letter sent to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday, California-based tracking app maker Tile argued that Apple was making it more difficult for users to operate its product on their smartphones compared to Apple's own rival application, FindMy, by selectively disabling features that allow for seamless user experience.
Tile asked the EU to investigate Apple's business practices, echoing previous calls made by the accessory maker in the United States. Specifically, Tile complains about changes Apple made to location services in iOS 13, which encourage customers not to use always-on location tracking. In addition, Tile said changing these options involve navigating between "complex settings not easy to find."
The report notes that Apple is also rumored to be launching its own AirTags item tracking tags soon. MacRumors uncovered evidence of AirTags within iOS 13 code last year. The tags will be closely integrated with the new Find My app, which will be getting an "Items" tab. Users will receive a notification when they are separated from a tagged item, and if necessary, they can set an AirTag to start making sounds to help locate the lost item.
In the letter, Tile goes on to claim that its product is being denied "equal placement" on the App Store and that Apple has terminated its agreement to sell Tile products in its retail stores, perhaps with one eye on the upcoming launch of AirTags.
Apple responded to the letter with the following statement:
"We strenuously deny the allegations of uncompetitive behavior that Tile is waging against us. Consistent with the critical path we've been on for over a decade, last year we introduced further privacy protections that safeguard user location data. Tile doesn't like those decisions so instead of arguing the issue on its merits, they've instead decided to launch meritless attacks."
The EU has said it intends to reply to Tile's letter and will launch preliminary investigations following the allegations.
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Top Rated Comments
Apple Music on its own may seem unspectacular, but what about Apple Music streaming on the Apple Watch and controlled via Siri? Think about the work that goes into not just Apple Music, but also the Apple Watch (and cellular connectivity) to make everything come together.
And it’s ironic that you bring up iOS 13 and Catalina, because it factors into my next few points below.
The number of ways Tile loses out to Apple, off the top of my head.
1) Their hardware / software experience was never great. I used it a couple of years back, and it was just full of bugs. Connectivity problems, severe battery drain, and low install base overall.
2) Tile has a huge ecosystem disadvantage compared to Apple. Apple can do things for free that Tile requires a subscription for. Tile can never run fully backgrounded or have access to iOS at a system level.
3) No matter how many tiles are sold, it will be way less than the number of devices running iOS 13 or macOS Catalina. In countries like Singapore, iPhones are commonplace but tile devices are practically non-existent (based on the last time I used them).
4) Apple has a very compelling privacy and encryption story for “Find my”. They use a key that is unique and changes for every device so even if someone can see all the pings in the real world, it cannot be tied back to a user. It’s very compelling and well-thought-through and it’s something Tile will never be able to match on an engineering level.
Even if Tile somehow gets Apple to capitulate on (2), they still lose out in all the other areas. There is no reason why I would get a Tile over the Airtags (when they do get released), and the reason for this is very simple - Airtags are going to offer a better user experience overall.
And Apple has earned this because of all the work that goes into making their own platform, and I think there is a lot more clever programming and engineering that goes on behind the scenes than people give Apple credit for.