Tile, a startup that makes location-aware tracking tags, says that Apple isn’t living up to its promises to avoid anticompetitive behavior. Tile made the complaint in a statement to an investigatory antitrust committee posted online.
In January, Tile testified against Apple in an anti-competitive behavior field hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee in Colorado. At the time, Tile’s General Counsel said that Tile and Apple’s relationship had deteriorated as rumors mounted that Apple is developing its own location-tracking products. These are likely to be marketed under the name AirTags.
Since then, however, Tile claims that Apple’s “anti-competitive behaviors” have gotten even worse, claims a Reuters report published Wednesday. Among Tiles’s complaints is that, despite Apple’s alleged “multiple promises” to reinstate Always Allow background permissions for third party apps’ geolocation services, it has not yet acted on this.
This change was made by Apple in iOS 13 as a safeguard against apps that track location in the background. But this change interfered with Tile’s functionality. It means that the app is only able to help a user locate a tracked object like their keys and wallet if they lose them while the app is open.
Tile is not happy about Apple’s anti-competitive behavior
Tile’s complaint against Apple is part of a broader investigation into the power of today’s tech titans. In September 2019, lawmakers asked more than 80 companies to advise them on ways they have been harmed by Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Spotify has also spoken out against Apple’s business practices.
Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has accused Apple of using the App Store to hinder competition. The crux of the complaint is that Apple is abusing antitrust laws by both acting as a distributor of apps and a manufacturer of goods and services in its own right.
Despite evidence that Apple is creating its own location-tracking tags, it has yet to release these to the general public.