Secret Apple document reveals strict developer restrictions for 'Find My' app

iPhone XS Find My app
iPhone XS Find My app (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple opened up its 'Find My' app to developers at WWDC.
  • However, there are strict restrictions on using it.
  • That's according to a "secret document" obtained by The Washington Post.

The Washington Post says a secret document obtained from Apple reveals strict constraints placed on developers who want to use Apple's 'Find My' app.

According to the report:

During Apple's annual developer's conference last month, it announced that smaller developers would finally have access to its "Find My" app, a move that on the surface could appease developers who have asserted that Apple has too much power...It turns out the announcement was not what it seemed, according to a secret Apple document obtained by The Washington Post...

The move was meant to open up 'Find My' to accessories like Tile, but it seems details of the announcement may have told a different story:

But the details of the announcement — kept secret by a confidentiality agreement all developers were required to sign — tell a different story. A 50-page PDF obtained by The Post shows Apple has placed strict restrictions on how consumers will be able to use the app. Apple customers who use Find My to locate a device will be barred from using other competing services simultaneously, the document says.

Developers called the move "unusual", for example, if you connect headphones to a device, you can use them with both Apple Music and Spotify.

Apple said that the resource was useful to smaller companies that didn't have resources to build such an app:

If you were a smaller player interested in getting into the finding space and you haven't built a finding network, this allows you to do that"

Apple denied the policy was anti-competitive. Developers also reportedly had to sign a 'Limited License to Find My Network Accessory Spec' document, preventing them from sharing details about the new specification, threatening them with legal action. Hence why the revelation about the policy was made anonymously. You can read the full report here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

1 Comment
  • Don't get the big deal. If you are a developer and want to take advantage of one of Apple's technologies, you may need to sign an NDA to get the info. Doesn't sound unusual, or nefarious. The article says "Apple customers who use Find My to locate a device will be barred from using other competing services simultaneously." That doesn't sound right. Can you not use Tile or TrackR now as well as FindMy? Seems more likely that if you are building a third party app for stuff locating, you can't aggregate FindMy services with other services. That's nothing like using a headphone with multiple services. That's like building an app that connects to both Apple Music and Spotify. Can you do that?