Key TakeawaysApple finally has opened third-party testing for "Find My," its built-in phone- and friend-finding application.Once manufacturers adopt certifications to use "Find My," users can track more of their devices and items through the app.Using "Find My" will allow you to track your items, while also protecting your privacy data from third-party companies.
Apple finally is opening testing for third-party items in its "Find My" app, moving a step closer to allowing you to locate your non-Apple devices through the service. Experts say the final product will be more convenient than using other apps, while also offering more security for your personal data.
Apple originally announced that it would start offering support to third-party devices with its "Find My" locator app during WDCC 2020 in June 2020. The company now has rolled out the certification system, allowing item manufacturers to start testing, then eventually adding their devices and trackers to the app.
While many of these items already offer their own applications, experts say that being able to use "Find My" not only will be more convenient for users with multiple items, but also will help keep third parties from having access to your location and other private data—something Apple has been working to limit for years now.
"Opening up the 'Find My' network to use by third-party device and accessory makers expands the usefulness of the 'Find My' app," Chris Hauk, a privacy expert at Pixel Privacy, told Ach5 in an email.
"While 'Find My' requires users to compromise a bit of their privacy (the service can be used to find other Apple device users in your family, like iPhones, Macs, and certain accessories), the risk of having any private data being exposed to other parties is low."
Cutting Off the Fat
Whether you use your phone for hours on end or only check it a few times a day, the chance that you've had to download additional apps to make the most of your devices is very high.
By expanding support for the 'Find My' app, Apple could help cut back on the number of apps you need to install on your device.
"Apple isn't selling your personal data like other tech giants who make billions from exposing your online and real-world activities."
This push for a more convenient and unified approach initially caused Apple to combine the "Find My iPhone" and "Find My Friends" apps into the current iteration of "Find My." Adding support for third-party devices is simply the evolution of that unification.
At the moment, Apple only is allowing Made for iPhone (MFi) licensees to test their hardware on the "Find My" network, but that pool of products always could expand in the future.
This move not only will save you space on your device, but also could help better protect your privacy data.
No More Sacrifices
While most users will notice how much more convenient it is to track items that are certified in the app, there is at least one other benefit worth exploring: Privacy.
Apple is currently at the forefront of the battle for user privacy, but the company has received some blowback from other companies.
Tile filed a complaint with the European competition commissioner, arguing that Apple is overstepping and being anti-competitive with how it now handles location data permissions. But privacy experts still feel Apple is making good strides.
Whenever you give an application access to your data on your phone, you're essentially opening yourself up to being tracked and having that information sold to advertisers and other companies.
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If you're using something like an item locator, any location data tracked by the app could be used against you.
The places you visit, the items you buy…it's all information many applications gather and send off to the app developers. That info can then be sold to advertisers, which is how many applications recoup their operating costs.
Thankfully, Apple's hard push for privacy in iOS 14 has helped quell many of the concerns users might have about how their data is gathered and stored.
For instance, iOS 14.5 will bring tighter user-tracking rules, and opening the "Find My" app to third-party support seems like a viable next step for Apple at the moment.
"Apple isn't selling your personal data like other tech giants who make billions from exposing your online and real-world activities," Hauk said.
"Just as it has in the past, Apple will restrict how personal location data is used by apps and services connected to any new 'Find My' compatible devices and accessories."