TILE WILL TRACK DOWN YOUR KEYS
I’m a fan of the Tile line of Bluetooth trackers.
Tiles are small, battery-powered Bluetooth trackers that you can slip into a wallet or computer bag or attach to your keychain to help you find them when they get separated from you.
The original Tile was not as streamlined as today’s models, but it worked well.
Today, Tile has evolved to include several new form factors, but they all work the same way.
You download the Tile app to your smartphone or tablet and add the individual Tiles to the app. Then you attach the Tile to whatever it is you don’t want to lose.
If you do lose track of the item, you can call up the Tile app on your phone get some help finding it.
If the Tile is within Bluetooth range, you’ll be able to make the Tile play a ringtone so you might locate it. This is what usually happens when I’ve misplaced my keys inside my house. I press the Find button in the Tile app and listen for the ringtone to lead me to my keys.
That’s all well and good, you say, but what happens if the keys were really lost away from home, or left on the counter at the bank? What happens if you are not conveniently within Bluetooth range?
Well, obviously your phone can’t signal a Tile that it can’t connect to via Bluetooth, but it can start a lost Tile search.
If you tag your Tile as “lost” in the app, the Tile servers will add it to a database of lost Tiles that gets broadcast to everyone who uses the Tile app.
If anyone with the Tile app on their phone comes within range of your lost Tile, their app will tell the Tile servers where your tile was discovered.
The Tile users won’t know they are helping locate your lost tile, as the locating of lost Tiles is not
transparent to the user community.
You will receive a message from your Tile app telling you where your lost Tile was located.
It’s up to you to go track it down and retrieve it.
Indeed, your phone might have found and reported on lost Tiles, and you’d never know it.
The original Tile didn’t have a very far range for Bluetooth communications, but it would work pretty well. If you had a big house and needed to locate your keys, you might have to walk around to different parts of the house before the Bluetooth connection was made so you could hear the ringtone.
Newer versions of the Tile, called the Tile Mate ($25) and Tile Slim ($30) added a button that could be used to locate the connected smartphone, so if you had your Tile, but misplaced your phone, the Tile can make a ringtone sound on the phone, even if the phone is on silent mode.
The Tile Mate has a hole so you can attach it to your key chain or computer bag. The Tile Slim is thin like a credit card, and it can be easily slipped in a wallet or purse.
The latest models — called the Tile Pro — have really upped the ante.
The Pro models come in gray (called the Sport) or white and gold (called the Style).
The Tile Pro costs $35 or two for $60.
The Pro models have a range of up to 200 feet, which is much better than the previous models. The Pros are also the only Tiles that are waterproof, and their speakers can play a ringtone that is twice as loud as older Tiles.
The Tile Pro Sport is 1.57 inches square and weighs just half an ounce.
Tiles are pretty inexpensive, but I need to explain how their life cycle works.
The Tiles do not have a user-replaceable battery. They are sealed. They are designed to work for one year before they “expire.”
To make the Tiles the small size they are, the batteries will only last for a year before you have to replace the Tile, which is called reTiling.
When your Tile expires, you send it back to the company, and you can replace it with a new Tile at a discount.
For instance, my Tile Slim in my wallet is due to expire in eight days. When I launch the Tile app, I’m given a button to press to start the reTile process.
When you reTile, you get discount of between 28 percent and 40 percent, so to replace the Tile Slim with a new one would cost $21 (instead of $30).
I realize some people will be turned off by this model of planned expiration, but it’s really just a subscription model that includes new hardware every year.
There are other brands of Bluetooth locater. Some have replaceable batteries and crowd-sourced locating like Tile.
I guess the choice comes down to quality, Bluetooth range, additional features and the tracking of lost devices, which would depend on the number of users walking around with the app.
I’ve been happy using Tile for a few years now, and the upgrade to the Tile Pro brings some very useful additions. Being able to find it from longer distances and hear it with a louder speaker are just what I wanted.
Simply add the Tile to whatever it is you don’t want to get lost, and the company’s app will help you find it with a ringtone.