Apple unveiled a series of new products on Tuesday that showed how it continues to center its marketing pitch around consumer privacy, at the potential expense of other companies, while muscling into new markets pioneered by much smaller competitors.
Apple showed off a new high-end iPad and iMac desktop computer based on new computer processors Apple now makes itself. Apple said it was redesigning its podcast app to enable podcast creators to charge for their shows. And it released a new device called AirTags, a $29 disc that attaches to a key ring or wallet to help find them.
Apple also made some other news on Tuesday that was not mentioned in its glitzy, hourlong infomercial. The company said in a subsequent news release that it planned to release its highly anticipated iPhone software next week that will come with a privacy feature that has many digital-advertising companies worried, most notably Facebook.
The feature will require apps to get explicit permission from users before tracking them across other apps. As a result, when opening many apps next week, owners of iPhones will be greeted with pop-up windows that ask them whether to allow the app to track them. Companies are expected to gather less data about users as people decline that tracking.
Apple and Facebook have been locked in a war of words over the change, with Facebook arguing that it would hurt the digital-advertising industry that helps fund free internet services. Apple has said it is merely giving consumers the right to choose whether to be tracked.
Separately on Tuesday, Apple’s AirTags immediately drew criticism from Tile, a company that for years has made similar devices for finding lost items. “We welcome competition, as long as it is fair competition. Unfortunately, given Apple’s well-documented history of using its platform advantage to unfairly limit competition for its products, we’re skeptical,” said CJ Prober, Tile’s chief executive.
Tile’s general counsel, along with executives from Apple, Google, Spotify and Match Group, are set to testify to Congress on Wednesday at a hearing on Apple and Google’s market power and control over mobile apps. “We think it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a closer look at Apple’s business practices,” Mr. Prober said.