Apple has been rumored to be working on its own Bluetooth-powered item tracker but AirTag was still a no-show at WWDC. Apple did announce something related that could also be setting the stage for that product’s launch later this year. Ironically, it also allows Bluetooth trackers like Tile to be on equal footing by opening its Find My network to these third-party devices, allowing users to harness the vast number of Apple devices to locate their lost keys or bags.
Previously known as Find My iPhone, Find My (yes, the name stops there) has become Apple’s platform for locating any and all its devices, including MacBooks and Apple Watches. These devices can connect to the Internet or have GPS radios, making it easier to pinpoint their location. Find My, however, can also use Bluetooth signals for devices that can’t connect to the Internet, which is exactly what the likes of Tile’s tags are.
A new developer page for the Find My network announces a program that will let these third-parties tap into Apple’s network. It is described as a crowdsourced network of millions of Apple devices that can work together to locate a lost device. No announcement has been made on who has jumped in on the program already but even Tile might be feeling a bit conflicted about it.
On the one hand, it will certainly benefit from being able to leverage Apple’s Find My network in addition to its own system for locating Tile tags. There is even the added stamp of approval from Apple, promising anonymity and end-to-end encryption that the company is best known for.
On the other hand, it could also have the effect of slowly making the likes of Tile less relevant or special. Those using Apple’s Find My apps will only need to swap out Tile’s tags for the rumored AirTags and the experience will still be the same.