Apple today introduced the updated Find My app, allowing third-party products to use the private and secure finding capabilities of Apple’s Find My network, which comprises hundreds of millions of Apple devices. The Find My network accessory program opens up the vast and global Find My network to third-party device manufacturers to build products utilizing the service, so their customers can use the Find My app to locate and keep track of the important items in their lives. New products that work with the Find My app from Belkin, Chipolo, and VanMoof will be available beginning next week.
Belkin’s first product compatible with Find My is a set of wireless earbuds; the Chipolo product is a small tag you can attach to luggage or key rings. Sure seems like there is plenty of room for first-party versions of both.
Perhaps the most notable omission from this list of participants is Tile, but it should not be surprising that it is not in the program. For one, it is a member of the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of developers putting pressure on lawmakers to regulate app marketplaces because of Apple’s policies. For another, Tile has accused Apple of illegal anticompetitive practices by asking users to confirm background location tracking.
But the biggest hangup Tile faces is that the Find My spec is intentionally restrictive on privacy grounds. Rene Ritchie posted a few of the privacy considerations on Twitter today, but there was more information in the draft documentation released last summer. More relevant to Tile is that the spec prohibited locator devices from using Apple’s Find My network and a third-party network. Tile has its own network, so it would have to choose — or let users choose — whether specific tags are synced to Find My or to Tile’s network, not both. The spec is now locked away as part of Apple’s MFi program, so I cannot see the latest version, but I do not imagine this rule has changed.
Also, the badge in the photo of the VanMoof bike in Apple’s press release — the one that reads “Locate with Apple Find My” — is so much nicer than the MFi badge for packaging.