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Does Apple opening up Find My make AirTags less compelling?

It might. But then, it might not.

If you saw today’s announcement of the Belkin Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds you might have been forgiven for thinking that this was just another pair of things to shove in your ears. And they are. But they’re also the first third-party accessory that supports Apple’s Find My app.

The ability to have third-party devices tie into Find My was first announced alongside iOS 14 at WWDC20, but it’s taken until today for anything to be announced that takes advantage of that fact. With Belkin’s new earbuds now on board, the Find My app is set for a new dawn. One that includes more than your iPhone, iPad, and other Apple-branded kit. Now, anyone with the Soundform Freedom earbuds will be able to find them whenever they lose them. That’s cool, but where does it leave AirTags?

Now, sure. AirTags have little to do with earbuds, but Belkin’s offering is surely just the thin edge of the wedge here. There’s little, presumably, from stopping Tile from joining the fun. Or any other smart tracker manufacturer, for that matter. And that begs the obvious question – if Tile was to come to Find My, would that make AirTags less compelling?

Feature-wise, maybe not, AirTags will take advantage of Apple’s ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for accurate location tracking. Much more accurate than anything standard trackers can manage. But that will surely come with a price. We still don’t know how much AirTags will cost, or when they’ll ship, But if they cost twice what people pay for Tile trackers, will they spend the money?

It might all come down to the story Apple tells. If AirTags and, for the sake of argument, Tile trackers both cost the same and use the Find My app, Apple will need to lean hard on UWB and make sure potential customers know how beneficial it could be. But if AirTags cost significantly more, that story could be a difficult one to sell.

If Apple ever actually gets around to announcing AirTags, maybe we’ll find out how all of this will go down.

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