Apple has been acting more aggressively against device-tracking company Tile, despite promising it wouldn't, Tile said this week.
Speaking before a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Tile general counsel Kirsten Daru accused Apple of engaging in anti-competitive behaviors that "have gotten worse, not better" in recent months. Daru told lawmakers, according to Reuters, that despite Apple's promise that it would stop annoying Apple users with notifications requiring them to allow Tile to track their devices, it hasn't followed through.
"Despite Apple's multiple promises to reinstate 'Always Allow' background permissions option for third party apps' geolocation services, Apple has not yet done so," Tile said, according to Reuters.
The timing is nothing if not interesting in light of the rumors that have been surrounding Apple -- and its own leaks.
Over the past several months, several rumors have claimed that Apple is working on a new Tile tracker competitor called AirTags. Apple has even revealed its plans in leaks as recent as this week, in which the AirTags were mentioned in iOS updates.
Apple, of course, has remained silent on its plans, but according to Tile, the company has been aggressively making it more difficult for Tile to compete.
The 'Always Allow' feature is a critical one for Tile. In order for Tile to work, it needs to be able to have a consistent connection to a user's iPhone. The Tile tracker beams out location information and the iPhone is able to see that whenever it wants. However, if the 'Always Allow' background permissions aren't available, Tile users may not be able to easily track their devices, making Tile far less useful.
For its part, Apple has been quick to note that iOS 13 was updated to give users more privacy control. And one of those controls is stopping apps from tracking locations. But in apps like Tile that require that information -- and when Apple has seemingly considered a competitor -- there are obvious implications.
Ultimately, it's also a question of what it means to go up against a tech giant that controls a large portion of a company's livelihood. Tile needs Apple in ways that Apple doesn't need Tile. That creates obvious concerns for Tile's future, if Apple indeed decides to launch AirTags to compete with Tile trackers. It may also give other small companies pause before they consider taking the fight to a big company like Apple.