Amazon has announced new partnerships in hopes of enhancing its connected devices to compete with products such as Apple AirTags.
The company said Friday it had formed partnerships with Tile, which makes trackers for lost items, and the smart lock maker Level in hopes of using this technology to enhance network tracking based on WiFi and Bluetooth.
“The strength and number of devices on a given tracking network is key to its accuracy,” writes CNBC in the network’s report on the announcement. “That’s part of the reason why many think Apple’s tracking network will be so strong since it relies on more than 1 billion iPhones, iPads and Macs to help with lost item tracking.”
As CNBC noted, Tile has spoken out against Apple’s ventures into lost-item tracking, testifying before Congress that they and other app developers fear Apple’s policies governing third-party apps and hardware accessories.
Last year, Tile accused Apple of tweaking its operating systems by changing default settings and turning off the “always allow” default — which disables third-party tracking tools — while setting its own FindMY app to default to “on.” Apple has denied these allegations.
Apple announced the AirTags last month, its own Tile-like product, as part of its annual Spring Loaded device showcase.
As CNBC notes, “they work in a similar way with iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. Now Tile will connect through a larger technology ecosystem, pitting Amazon and Apple against each other in a new front of connected devices.”
Amazon says the new partnerships will let it upgrade its Sidewalk tracking network by allowing Tile and Level devices to connect to Amazon Echo products. Tile will begin working with Amazon devices next month, integrating compatible Echo devices to extend Tile’s network to help users recover lost keys or other items.
As Amazon’s Dave Limp told CNBC, Sidewalk does what cellular — which can be expensive — and WiFi — which has a limited range — can’t do.
“Sidewalk kind of splits the difference between those two and allows us to put millions and billions of things on the edge of the network but do it in a secure way,” he said.