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Tile accuses Apple in the US for monopolistic practices in iOS 13 and its still to be launched ‘AirTags

Tile has been one of four companies to testify before a U.S. Congressional subcommittee in Colorado. US authorities are investigating several technology companies for possible anti-competitive practices, including Amazon, Google and Apple. In the case of the latter, the company of accessories that facilitate finding lost objects has filed three complaints. Specifically, about the notification system of the use of background locations that iOS 13 makes to users, the app Search me and the other about an Apple product that has not been released yet.

Tile against iOS 13, Search for me and the alleged ‘AirTags’

Tile started operations in 2012 , selling accessories that work in conjunction with an app on iOS and Android. From Reuters they report the timing of their relationship with Apple as follows:

  • 2015, Apple begins selling Tile products in its own physical stores.
  • 2018, Tile was able to showcase its technology at WWDC 2018, where it announced Siri’s support.
  • April 2019, Apple’s efforts are leaked around some “AirTags”.
  • June 2019, Apple stops selling the Tiles in its stores.
Tile accuses Apple in the US for monopolistic practices in iOS 13 and its still to be launched ‘AirTags
Tile accuses Apple in the US for monopolistic practices in iOS 13 and its still to be launched ‘AirTags

For the accessories company, the launch of an unannounced product is an anti-competitive threat . Although it is striking to accuse a company for something it has not done and may never do. Where there is a basis for making an accusation is in the way the location permissions work in iOS 13.

Image of the rumored “AirTag”, Tile’s supposed competitor.

With this version of software, third-party apps must ask users for permission to use the device location. The user can choose between “never”, “once”, “while using the app”. If you want to give permission so that you can always use it, you must change it in Settings and you will receive a periodic reminder of the locations you have been sharing with the developer.

This is a function designed to warn users of what is being done with something as sensitive as our location . A measure that many have welcomed and is part of a new push for user privacy in iOS 13.

In addition, Tile has also protested the Search Me app. But this app has been running on iOS since 2010, when it was announced with iOS 4 under the name Search My iPhone. With iOS 13 both Search my iPhone and Friends were merged into a single app, which is the one we currently have under the name Search my.

Apple’s response to Tile’s “friction”

This has been Apple’s official response to Tile’s concerns. According to them, in a future iOS 13 update we should have the possibility to activate the background localization always in the third party apps , from the app itself and without the need to go to Settings.

Monopoly charges against integrated business models return

In recent months, in conjunction with the accusations of monopoly that are being launched against the technological giants, there is one that points directly against vertical business models . According to this argument, this type of integrated strategies threatens competition because they do not give them the same opportunities as their own products. Last October we saw some accusations made by Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge, which are along the same lines:

As we saw then, integrated or vertical business models have always existed . And they have always been legal. Certainly, Apple can make changes to adjust the experience, but as John Gruber points out:

At AppleThe integration of Apple, the audio jack and the limits of the monopoly

2020 is going to be the year when we see how this anti-monopolistic contest develops and perhaps ends. Both in the US and in Europe. As Gruber indicates, there are better and worse arguments to accuse the big companies. This is not one of them.

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