How Apple trolled companies that demanded to open the Find app for them

Prohibitions and restrictions, if not conceived as the basis of iOS, were always somewhere nearby. After all, on the one hand, Apple prohibited quite a lot of its users in comparison with what was allowed for Android users. On the other hand, they felt quite comfortable, not particularly worried about the lack of alternative application directories, the ability to replace the standard software with third-party software and desktop widgets. Despite this, in Cupertino, slowly but surely, they themselves went on the path of a gradual relaxation of restrictions, expanding the capabilities of the iOS year after year. True, not all of this will be approved by third-party developers, who were no less eager for liberalization than ours.

Apple has allowed third-party vendors to use Locator, but will they be happy about it when they know the terms?


In the development of iOS 14, Apple decided to remove the restriction on using Find My to find third-party devices. Thus, two birds with one stone were killed in Cupertino: they received a plus in karma from users who had long wanted something like this, and at the same time warned the antitrust proceedings on the complaint of Tile, which released search beacons and was very worried that with the release of AirTag, iOS users would stop being interested in it at all products. But what could be wrong here?

Search for third-party devices in Locator

Latitude cannot be used with third-party search applications

According to The Washington Post, Apple has prepared a 50-page document called the Find My Network Accessory Spec, which outlines the requirements for devices used with Locator. Among other things, it says that Apple will prohibit the simultaneous use of multiple search applications. That is, users will not be able to simultaneously track the same search trackers Tile both in Locator and in the proprietary application of their manufacturer. A special system mechanism simply does not allow adding the same device to two applications.

Frankly speaking, this is a rather serious limitation, which obviously neither Tile nor other companies that pretend to use Locator will be happy about. After all, in fact, this is the same as prohibiting iOS users from controlling smart home gadgets from applications other than the regular “Home”. No, I roughly understand why this is needed, or at least how it will be explained in Cupertino. Obviously, the message here will lie in the security plane. They say that the simultaneous operation of a device with several search applications can be used to spy and undermine user privacy, but I doubt that this is exactly what Tile dreamed of.

IOS 14 security

Tile is unlikely to approve of Apple’s rules for using Latitude

It is significant that at the presentation of iOS 14 Apple only announced the possibility of using Locator with third-party devices, but did not explain exactly how it would be implemented. Everyone thought that the company would explain this to developers during the following days of WWDC 2020, but even then this did not happen. Then everyone thought that there would be nothing particularly difficult in the implementation of compatibility, and Apple would simply release some FindMyKit that would provide support itself. But it was not there. In Cupertino they went even further than one could imagine and, frankly speaking, they badly screwed up not only the developers but also themselves.

Why developers, I think, is clear and so. After all, it is logical that Tile tried to use Locator not because it is better than its proprietary application, but because it hoped to expand its audience reach and strengthen the position of its product. Apple, on the other hand, has scoffed itself with the fact that, obviously, Tile and others will now simply become whipped up from this act of trolling and will demand stricter punishment from the US Congress and the European Commission for Apple, which, in addition to capturing the search application market, also restricts work third-party software.

PS But it’s fun.

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