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Tile Review: Say goodbye to losing your stuff

Tile app review

Over the past days, I have managed to lose my wallet and my car keys. This isn’t necessarily a new occurrence and they weren’t actually lost. They were simply misplaced somewhere in my home. But to be honest, I have left my wallet at various locations, on a number of occasions. The last time was on top of a gas pump and thanks to some trustworthy folks, it was returned in tact. I’ve started to use Apple Pay more and more, but dreams of my iPhone replacing my wallet are years away, if ever. Now all I need is an Apple Car and that would solve problems with misplaced keys. Often when these things go missing, it’s when you need them most, sending me into a frenzy that includes ripping my house and car apart. There’s also the fear that my wallet was in the hands of someone who was only interested in running up the bill on my credit cards. If my forgetfulness wasn’t enough, finding things has become increasingly difficult thanks in part to my 3-year old daughter who collects things. It was difficult enough to remember where I left my keys and I’m pretty certain it wasn’t in a Sofia the First pocketbook. I reached my limit when it comes to losing things, so was intrigued and frankly, excited to try Tile, a product that could put an end to losing things.

Tile app review

The Tile is a small square measuring at 37mm x 37mm x 5mm. There is a sizable circular cut-out which makes it easy to attach to keys. It’s thicker than I expected, which may present problems for those with skinny wallets. Inside this little plastic wonder is a non-replaceable CR2 battery. There is no charging and it’s always on. Tile is manufactured to be waterproof and the battery is soldered to the circuit board, so even amateur hackers should probably avoid attempts at replacing its battery. According to the company, the lifespan of a Tile is 1-year, at which time you can recycle your old tile for a new one, at a discounted price. There’s no mention on their website of what you can expect to pay. Using their current price as a parameter, a single tile costs $25. You can get discounts of up to 60% by adding more Tiles. You can expect the average cost per Tile to be in the area of $17.50 to $25. I’m assuming that with discounts, renewals likely end up in that range. You also get the advantage of any new tech that finds its way into the newer replacement Tile.

Tile size

Tile works in conjunction with both iOS and Android apps. The Bluetooth chip in Tile communicates with your iPhone, within a range of 100 feet, keeping track of its location.

I received a four-pack of Tile, which actually was a gift from my wife, who has spent over 10 years hearing me ask, “Hey, have you seen my {wallet, keys}?” The timing of a gift to track things could not have come at a better time. The setup process was easy. You download the app, create a new account and you’re ready to get started.

Tile setup

You tap on the ‘+’ and with the Tile next to your phone, press on the ‘e’. Underneath it’s plastic casing is a button to pair it to your iPhone. You assign it a name and either attach it using the key loop, drop it in a bag or use the enclosed stickers to stick it on a possession. If you foresee yourself have changing needs, you might want to invest in a small pack of velcro. This would make it easy to move it around as you see fit.

Add a Tile

For the most part, the app works in the background, requiring little if any input from its owner. Your phone acts as a conduit to keep the location of your possessions up to date. The application has two tabs. One lists your items, their last known location and when that location was recorded. You can add unlimited Tiles. A second tab provides you with an Apple Map that displays the locations of your Tiles. Location isn’t granular. The Tile app can not map the inside of your home. “Go upstairs, your keys are in the bedroom.

It will tell you if you’re hot or cold. If you misplaced a book bag, you’ll immediately know if it was at home or a last location. I took the liberty of dropping my wallet and keys into places I recently found my items – a toy bin and my dresser drawer. With the house relatively silent, I selected my wallet and tapped Find. Tile immediately notified me that I was steps away. There’s an immediate value here. If this had been a typical scenario, I would no longer stress that my wallet and credit cards were lost.

Where are my keys

Going on the hunt within my house wasn’t much different. The unique feature of the Tile is to emit a sound, similar to Find My iPhone and definitely one of my favorite Apple Watch features. Where as the phone is loud, I can’t say the same for Tile. I knew where I was looking and still, the sound was incredibly muted. Testing both the toy bin and dresser drawer, the sound isn’t something you’ll notice when you enter a room. I conducted my tests when the house was silent. With two kids, that’s not common. The suppressed sound from the internal speaker is an unfortunate offshoot of making the Tile waterproof. What good is the Tile if you wallet is accompanying an item lost in the ocean or a pool?

Find lost wallet

When you initiate Find, there is a map that displays the location. During my testing, it was accurate and was updating often. If you lose an Tile outside your home, the last location is displayed. As you get closer, the green rings will illuminate until they form a perfect circle.

I noted earlier that it is reliant on your iPhone. That’s true, to an extent. If you lose an item, there is a lost mode, again taking a page from the iPhone. The difference here is that the lack of a GPS chip makes it impossible for the Tile to send its location. When in lost mode, it relies on other Tile users to report back to the cloud. There is no action needed on their end, nor is any personal information exchanged. It will ping the cloud and notify you of an updated location. In theory, this sounds fantastic. From a practical standpoint, it relies on the Tile community. Does it increase the chance you’ll get your item back? Yes, but chances certainly diminish if it’s not at the last known location established by your iPhone.

Tile on Map

Since I often need help finding things, I appreciate the inclusion of sharing within the Tile app. You can invite one other person to connect to your Tile. One person can connect at a time. So if my wife leaves with the keys, she’ll connect and my connection will drop – as you’d expect.

Pros:

  • Accurate tracking of your stuff
  • Sound beacon helps you find your possessions
  • Durable, attractive, waterproof key loop ready
  • Fast setup
  • Easy to use app
  • Features Apple Watch app

Cons:

  • Battery is not user replaceable resulting in 1-year lifespan
  • Speaker could be louder
  • Thickness adds bulk to wallet
  • Limited community diminishes usefulness of crowdsourced lost mode

I like Tile, a lot. If I had to guess, that admiration will increase over time as it helps me battle my forgetfulness and a clever 3-year old who has a fondness for hiding things. I don’t so much mind the yearly upgrade cycle, provided that comes with improvements, which I hope includes a louder speaker. In Tile, you’re buying a hardware and software product, one that is well thought out and priced right. If the idea of never losing your stuff sounds appealing, you should consider Tile.

Shop Tile starting at $25 at Amazon

A comprehensive review of Tile bluetooth tracker and app for iPhone, Android devices.
Tile app
Date Published: 07/14/2015
In Tile, you're buying a hardware and software product, one that is well thought out and priced right. If the idea of never losing your stuff sounds appealing, you should consider Tile.
7 / 10 stars
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Rick

    July 14, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve been holding out for the Pixie Point https://www.getpixie.com/

    It should be released in August ’15 or so and is much thinner than the Tile. The location features also seem much more refined. Pricing is similar and they also need to be replaced yearly.

  2. Everythingapple

    August 11, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Is this similar to https://www.thetrackr.com/bravo

  3. Jack

    September 7, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    There’s a new, updated Tile now. Louder speaker, finds iPhone. On an aside, July 16 was the last time the front page of the website was updated with news. What’s up? I check eic out each day for Apple news. No comments on the upcoming September 9 event?

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