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FCC filings for Apple's newly released AirTags have revealed that the Cupertino tech giant began regulatory testing and preparing to seek regulatory approval for the product nearly two years before they were officially announced.

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A series of documents submitted to the Federal Communications Commission indicate that AirTag underwent testing for official certification between July and November of 2019. Despite testing being conducted in mid-2019, official reports for regulatory certification were only issued in September and October of last year.

Like all consumer products, Apple devices must undergo extensive and rigorous testing with the FCC in the United States and regulatory agencies of countries where the device will be sold before they can reach the market. What makes this case particularly interesting is that AirTags were the subject of rumors for a full two years, with a launch seemingly imminent for much of that time.

With the FCC filings indicating that AirTags were far enough along that they were undergoing regulatory testing in 2019, it suggests that Apple may indeed have pushed back the AirTags launch by as much as a year. While the exact reasoning behind Apple's delay for AirTags remains a point of mystery, an educated guess could be that the company wanted to build out its Find My network before its launch to avoid accusations of anti-competitive behavior.

As AirTags were rumored to be in development, Tile, which creates a line of similar item trackers, began to ring the alarm bells that certain features in iOS would make it harder to compete with the eventual Apple item tracker. At the time, companies such as Tile had no real platform or network on Apple devices that would render their item trackers mainstream or particularly easy to use compared to an Apple-made accessory.

That all changed earlier this month when Apple announced it's opening up the Find My network to third-party accessory makers. AirTag is built off of the Find My network that consists of more than a billion Apple devices that use encrypted signals to crowdsource the location of other Find My compatible devices and items.

By opening up the network to third-party companies ahead of the launch of AirTags, Apple may have felt it would be avoiding scrutiny and anti-competitive accusations given that its own item tracker would no longer have an advantage on Apple devices compared to those made by other companies.

Tile doesn't use Apple's Find My ecosystem, and it's unclear if the company plans to adopt the network in the future. Others, however, such as Belkin, VanMoof, and Chipolo, have announced plans to adopt the Find My network for their own products, including wireless earbuds, bikes, and an item tracker, respectively.

Apple's own AirTags became available for pre-order earlier today and will begin arriving to customers on April 30.

Article Link: Apple Began Preparing for AirTag Regulatory Approval Nearly Two Years Ago
 
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countryside

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2016
656
2,170
Apple spent years crafting these magnificent AirTags... a product that will create a whole new tech industry/ecosystem. They did it right. They created jobs due to the 3rd party market.

On the flip side, I bet Samsung spent a week on R&D after they heard rumors of Apple's plans... then put their crappy product out right before Apple. Shame on you!
 
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frenchcamp49er

macrumors 6502
Sep 18, 2014
421
599
Tile needs to quit whining and use the tools available to them. I mean, they now have access to the Find My network. Where as before they depended on other Tile users. They can simply try to merge those and eek out an advantage.
Yep Tile shouldn't be whining, Tiles is also developing an ultra wide band version. They argument is full of holes. Why don't they complain about Samsung and all the other personal trackers out there.
 

JPack

macrumors G4
Mar 27, 2017
10,363
18,469
An AirTags launch in 2020? At the start of the pandemic?

It should be pretty obvious why Apple didn't launch it last year and took the time to continue development. Not many people worried about losing their keys or backpack in 2020.
 

deevey

macrumors 65816
Dec 4, 2004
1,179
1,141
Tile needs to quit whining and use the tools available to them. I mean, they now have access to the Find My network. Where as before they depended on other Tile users. They can simply try to merge those and eek out an advantage.
I would think that they could have access on approval.

Based on their obviously well researched "see you in court" so quickly after the announcement and the fact that they are founding members of an organization that wants to tear down the necessity of the App Store. Gotta ask yourself, If you were Apple would you want to partner with them ? They are small fry, with a sketchy track record and a chip on their shoulder.

I reckon that Chipolo will do more sales in a couple of months, than Tile did in nine years.

Tile can always go Android exclusive should the Apple ecosystem be too locked down for them.
 

_Spinn_

macrumors 68040
Nov 6, 2020
3,735
8,173
Wisconsin
You can tell Apple has put a lot of thought into AirTags and how to avoid people abusing them to violate other’s privacy. I’m sure that along with the pandemic and building out the Find My network led to the long wait for them to be released.
 

Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
31,614
43,056
In the middle of several books.
Tile needs to quit whining and use the tools available to them. I mean, they now have access to the Find My network. Where as before they depended on other Tile users. They can simply try to merge those and eek out an advantage.
I think Tile had been resting on their product laurels for far too long. Apple comes along and basically shows up Tile in every way. I don't think Tile can rightfully compete any longer. They have lost their market place (so to speak). Taking legal action is a smoke screen to try and give them time to face the inevitable; a company product death.
 

swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
Tile needs to quit whining and use the tools available to them. I mean, they now have access to the Find My network. Where as before they depended on other Tile users. They can simply try to merge those and eek out an advantage.

Yep Tile shouldn't be whining, Tiles is also developing an ultra wide band version. They argument is full of holes. Why don't they complain about Samsung and all the other personal trackers out there.
The Find My network has a 50 page terms and conditions which is under NDA, but it leaked to the Washington Post.

One of the items is that to use the Find My network, the device can't use any similar network, such as the one Tile already created. They would have to abandon their own network, and thus all of their Android users.

This is exactly why Apple is under anti-trust investigation.

Apple as a developer has created an OS level tool for finding items--it requires no app installation, like Tile does. Tile can't build system level tracking that goes out with every iPhone. But every iPhone Apple sells will help others' track Find My items. But no other developer can do that. No one gets that access but through Apple, and then Apple tells them they can't have any other tracking system, which means they have to give up what they built and abandon their Android customers.

Apple is using its dominance in one field to squash out competition in another. If they let Tile keep their own network and use Find My it would be different, or if Apple made Find My a cross platform feature so that it worked on Android too it might be different. But it seems like it's just one more way to get licensing fees (for Find My products) and to keep users in the iOS ecosystem.
 

skemmuni

macrumors member
Nov 21, 2007
32
9
Faroe Islands
The Find My network has a 50 page terms and conditions which is under NDA, but it leaked to the Washington Post.

One of the items is that to use the Find My network, the device can't use any similar network, such as the one Tile already created. They would have to abandon their own network, and thus all of their Android users.

This is exactly why Apple is under anti-trust investigation.

Apple as a developer has created an OS level tool for finding items--it requires no app installation, like Tile does. Tile can't build system level tracking that goes out with every iPhone. But every iPhone Apple sells will help others' track Find My items. But no other developer can do that. No one gets that access but through Apple, and then Apple tells them they can't have any other tracking system, which means they have to give up what they built and abandon their Android customers.

Apple is using its dominance in one field to squash out competition in another. If they let Tile keep their own network and use Find My it would be different, or if Apple made Find My a cross platform feature so that it worked on Android too it might be different. But it seems like it's just one more way to get licensing fees (for Find My products) and to keep users in the iOS ecosystem.
It is called privacy. You cannot on the one hand honor privacy, and on the other hand track every inch on your own network.
 

TheRealTVGuy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
701
1,152
Orlando, FL
The Find My network has a 50 page terms and conditions which is under NDA, but it leaked to the Washington Post.

One of the items is that to use the Find My network, the device can't use any similar network, such as the one Tile already created. They would have to abandon their own network, and thus all of their Android users.

This is exactly why Apple is under anti-trust investigation.

Apple as a developer has created an OS level tool for finding items--it requires no app installation, like Tile does. Tile can't build system level tracking that goes out with every iPhone. But every iPhone Apple sells will help others' track Find My items. But no other developer can do that. No one gets that access but through Apple, and then Apple tells them they can't have any other tracking system, which means they have to give up what they built and abandon their Android customers.

Apple is using its dominance in one field to squash out competition in another. If they let Tile keep their own network and use Find My it would be different, or if Apple made Find My a cross platform feature so that it worked on Android too it might be different. But it seems like it's just one more way to get licensing fees (for Find My products) and to keep users in the iOS ecosystem.
But would having a device able to access two networks make the device less secure? For instance, some entrepreneurial hacker decides to use the Tile network to bridge over to the Find My network and start pulling location & other data.
 

Art Mark

macrumors 6502
Jan 6, 2010
438
952
Oregon
The Find My network has a 50 page terms and conditions which is under NDA, but it leaked to the Washington Post.

One of the items is that to use the Find My network, the device can't use any similar network, such as the one Tile already created. They would have to abandon their own network, and thus all of their Android users.

This is exactly why Apple is under anti-trust investigation.

Apple as a developer has created an OS level tool for finding items--it requires no app installation, like Tile does. Tile can't build system level tracking that goes out with every iPhone. But every iPhone Apple sells will help others' track Find My items. But no other developer can do that. No one gets that access but through Apple, and then Apple tells them they can't have any other tracking system, which means they have to give up what they built and abandon their Android customers.

Apple is using its dominance in one field to squash out competition in another. If they let Tile keep their own network and use Find My it would be different, or if Apple made Find My a cross platform feature so that it worked on Android too it might be different. But it seems like it's just one more way to get licensing fees (for Find My products) and to keep users in the iOS ecosystem.
No. Why does device Apple builds have to work for your company at all? A consumer can buy another phone. Do Ford cars have to work with Subaru parts? Are you mistaking creating a product with 'dominance' in a product?
 

WiseAJ

macrumors 65816
Sep 8, 2009
1,200
3,880
PDX
One of the items is that to use the Find My network, the device can't use any similar network, such as the one Tile already created. They would have to abandon their own network, and thus all of their Android users.
They don't have to abandon their network. Just any device that is connected to Find My can't be connected to any other network. Chipolo still has their own network and are still selling other devices accessing that network. They just created a new tag specifically for Find My integration that is only for Find My so they can still get sales from the iOS customers who would prefer that option. Tile can do the same but they insist on extorting every single one of their customers to get them signed up for a overpriced subscription service that's equivalent to highway robbery.
 

bklement

Cancelled
Oct 3, 2019
336
495
Apple as a developer has created an OS level tool for finding items--it requires no app installation, like Tile does. Tile can't build system level tracking that goes out with every iPhone. But every iPhone Apple sells will help others' track Find My items. But no other developer can do that. No one gets that access but through Apple, and then Apple tells them they can't have any other tracking system, which means they have to give up what they built and abandon their Android customers.
Is every device part of this network or there is an opt-in when someone turns on find my for their device?
 

swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
No. Why does device Apple builds have to work for your company at all? A consumer can buy another phone. Do Ford cars have to work with Subaru parts? Are you mistaking creating a product with 'dominance' in a product?
They both create a marketplace and also product for that marketplace, and in that marketplace they can dominate because they have access and features others do not. Rather than submit an app to the app store for AirTags they can bake it into the OS. Rather than follow App Store guidelines on unsolicited notifications, they can send out unsolicited notifications to get you to sign up for Apple Music that no other developer can.

On a Mac, you can write system extensions and distribute them outside the app store. You can't do that on an iPhone as a developer, but yet Apple does (not file extensions, but the equivalent through OS updates with features other app developers can't distribute). They are now selling a class of product (Find My network products) based on being able to write code for the iPhone that other developers besides Apple cannot write, and they are selling a hardware product (AirTags) that they don't have to pay licensing fees for, which other Find My network developers do have to.

The counterargument would be that there are other even more closed systems, like a console for example.

But I think what the government will look at is that is Apple's devices and the ecosystem around them have become sprawling such that they create entanglements where products that are only tangentially related to each other get locked into Apple's web of control. iPhones are not single purpose devices. They are computers, but unlike computers of the past, there is a single point of distribution of software and thus the ecosystem around those devices. And in some ways the App Store is like the Web 2.0, and Apple controls it entirely on its devices, and on Android devices Google controls their app distribution almost exclusively (not quite as much as Apple, but nearly so).

I don't know what the answer is, but I think it would be irresponsible if the government weren't overseeing it. Companies can become so overgrown that their own products suffer, as well.
 
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dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
6,089
2,393
Phoenix, AZ
I would think that they could have access on approval.

Based on their obviously well researched "see you in court" so quickly after the announcement and the fact that they are founding members of an organization that wants to tear down the necessity of the App Store. Gotta ask yourself, If you were Apple would you want to partner with them ? They are small fry, with a sketchy track record and a chip on their shoulder.

I reckon that Chipolo will do more sales in a couple of months, than Tile did in nine years.

Tile can always go Android exclusive should the Apple ecosystem be too locked down for them.
Tile...you mean the battery eating little plastic square? Sheesh, I have never used such a crappy product. I can't wait for these AirTags.
 

sulpfiction

macrumors 68040
Aug 16, 2011
3,073
601
Philadelphia Area
As a current Tile user I cannot wait to ditch them and delete their app. It’s always irked me that they want to charge for “better” customer service. And their $9.00/mo “premium protect” plan is a complete joke. But I have a feeling things at Tile are gonna change quickly. But unfortunately not quick enough.
 
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