Tile, Inc. launch their second generation Tile today. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, the Tile is a $25 Bluetooth tracker that can be used to keep tabs on keys, bags or anything else of value.
The battery is not rechargeable or replaceable which means that when the battery dies the whole Tile needs replacing, but on the plus side it’s a sealed unit with an IP5 waterproof rating. The battery is estimated to last around a year under normal circumstances. Now, whether $25 a year to track one item is worth it is up to you.
Ask yourself how much it would cost to replace the item you’ve attached it to.
The Tile boasts such long battery life compared to other trackers because it has no GPS radio and instead relies entirely on the location data provided by your phone.
In an ideal world the Bluetooth range could be up to 100m. In practice, it would be less due to walls / interference etc.
As for the operation of the Tile app, if you lose your item you just open the companion app, click on the relevant Tile and click Find. If your Tile is within Bluetooth range, the app will give you the option to find it, alongside its current location information. If you press the Find button, the Tile will begin to loudly chirp away so that you can locate it by ear.
If your Tile is out of range, the app will report the last time and place it was seen so you know where to start looking.
If you still can’t find it, the community of Tile users can help.
Anybody who happens to walk past your missing Tile with the app running on their phone will anonymously update its location. As Tile put it – “This feature is 100% private—no one knows you’re looking for a lost item but you.”
But that was the first generation Tile.
The second generation Tile includes new features designed to keep it ahead of the pack. We’ve been testing one for the last couple of weeks to see how it fares.
I was a initially a little disappointed to find that the new Tile hasn’t lost any bulk compared to it’s predecessor. Second generation devices like this are usually a bit smaller due to the miniaturisation of components and manufacturing refinements.
That feeling was short lived however as this new model houses additional circuitry for its killer feature – Find My Phone.
This flips the concept of using your phone to locate the Tile on its head. Now, double pressing the ‘e’ on the Tile logo locates your phone. It’s a great feature and one I’ve actually used more often than ‘find my Tile’ over the last few weeks. The beauty of this feature is that you are very unlikely to misplace both your phone and your Tile so if you have access to one, you can find the other.
It even promises to make your iPhone sound an alert when on silent. This does work, to an extent. So far as I can tell, it achieves this by playing music.
Think of it this way – your phone can play music even when the ringer is set to ‘Silent’ and the Tile does the same thing.
The one flaw I’ve found with this method is that if your phone is connected to a Bluetooth headset or other audio accessory,
the audible alert is routed through that device and not the loudspeaker.
I’ve reported this to Tile and they are looking into it. I have a Withings Smart Baby Monitor and their app overrides the current audio path to always play audio through the loudspeaker every time you connect, so it is possible.
Overall, I’ve found the Tile to be incredibly useful and the new Find my Phone feature is an excellent addition. For now, I only have one Tile attached to my keys and I think that’s all I need.
If it had a user replaceable battery it would be a much more attractive product, but as it is, I would give it 7.5 / 10