Despite the fact that Apple has already released at least three functional updates for iOS 14 and started testing the fourth, not all of the promised innovations have been released. At least one feature announced at last year’s WWDC is still unavailable. Well, at least it has until now, because tonight Apple finally opened up the ability for third-party manufacturers to use the proprietary Find My app to find their own Bluetooth devices.
If you remember, last summer, at the presentation of iOS 14, one of the hosts of the event promised that with the release of the update, the Locator application could be used to search not only for branded Apple devices, but also for third-party devices.
Almost six months have passed since then, but the promised innovation has not reached users. However, yesterday at CES 2021, which takes place in a semi-online format, the first non-Apple Bluetooth device compatible with the Locator app was unveiled. They are the Belkin Soundform Freedom True Wireless headphones.
Find a device using Find My
Finding third-party gadgets and accessories in Find My is the same way you find branded Apple devices. It involves searching in two modes. In the first, when the lost device is somewhere nearby, its location is tracked via Bluetooth on the iPhone, which is repelled by the signal strength.
In the second, when the gadget is not known where, third-party users are involved. When they walk past the lost device, their iPhone detects the lost device’s Bluetooth signal, recognizes the unique identifier assigned to it, and transmits information about their location to the real owner.
That is, everything works in the same way as with Apple’s own products, with the only exception that third-party gadgets are unlikely to be able to send a signal when they are off. Who knows, though. After all, if in Cupertino they were able to train their devices to signal the loss even without an Internet connection and charging, perhaps the rest can.
Despite the fact that manufacturers have gained access to the Locator code, at the moment there is no mechanism in iOS that allows you to search for third-party devices. Most likely, it will appear with the release of iOS 14.4, which is currently in the testing stage. According to the rules, the update should be released before the end of the month, but since Apple has not been releasing fresh beta versions for three weeks, the tests may drag on.
Why Apple Opened Locator
However, the important thing in this story is not even when users will be able to search for third-party devices through Find My, but why Apple agreed to this. After all, Cupertino usually tries not to open access to their ecosystem to third-party manufacturers, and Locator, whatever one may say, is a part of it. Here, most likely, the company’s fear of antitrust proceedings, which shone on it because of Tile, a manufacturer of search trackers, worked.
If you remember, about a year ago, Tile began openly criticizing Apple for not allowing her and other accessory makers to use Locator. The motivation was simple – thus, Cupertino limits competition, preventing iPhone owners from convenient access to the tool for finding missing devices.
Those accusations sounded ridiculous, considering that Locator is Apple’s own development. After all, what prevented Tile from releasing its own application and not encroaching on someone else’s? Therefore, many dismissed the claims of the tracker manufacturer as untenable. However, after some time in Cupertino decided that it is better to give access to the application to everyone than to get a claim and run into a trial and a fine.
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