A Small Gadget with a Big Purpose
Let’s start from the beginning. The tile was crowdfunded back in 2013 by thousands of backers, who felt that this device could properly track their stuff. The gadget eventually arrived last summer for iOS devices. The Tile App is available from the Play Store and free to download with a 30-day trial. Then there are in-app purchases for the product services.
Tile costs $30 a piece with discounts for multi-tile packs and is about as big as a matchbook. You will have to buy more than one Tile to track multiple things. It has a keyring hole, so you can easily attach it to your keys. Or stick it to stuff with the included adhesive square. It’s a tad on the thick side, about as thick as two quarters stacked up on one another. Although it isn’t bulky, it’s still a significant addition to your keychain or wherever you put it. It’s also water-resistant and constructed of durable material, so you don’t have to worry about falling apart.
Tile is helpful for people who tend to misplace everyday things, like keys or a wallet. If you lose something with a Tile attached to it, you can ping it via Bluetooth. And it will play a lovely chiptune melody until you’ve confirmed that you found it. If it’s too far out of range, you can then use the Community Find feature available within the app to locate it. Since Tile doesn’t have GPS tracking built in. It relies on other users with the Tile app to locate your missing square. That location information is then registered as the last place it was seen. It’s like a virtual lost and found. You don’t have to be a Tile user to help out others.
The good news is that all of the Tile features work well. Save for a few awkward times when the Tile app couldn’t figure out. That my keys were right next to my phone. Tile’s Bluetooth range extends up to 100 feet; as long as other Tile users have Bluetooth. You’ll be able to track where your stuff is. Tile’s tunes are loud enough to hear in a noisy house, too.
Here’s The Bad Part
Instead of providing a user-replaceable battery, Tile is completely sealed. This supposedly makes it resistant to water, but since there’s no way to replace any of its innards. You’ll have to buy another one when the device dies. Tile promises that the device will last for an entire year. The company is working on a renewal program to offer new Tiles at a discounted price. But that means there’s still an annual upkeep fee that you’ll have to consider.
There’s also the question of whether remembering to trade in your Tile annually is worth the device’s utility. Sure, you might misplace your keys every once in a while, but is that worth it? Isn’t the point of Tile not to worry if your life gets so busy that you misplace things? How do they expect busy worker bees to remember. To trade in their Tile for a new one on top of everything else?
The other issue is that Tile’s Community Find feature. Will only work as intended in an area with many other Tile users. It doesn’t seem like it’d work well beyond big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, or New York. I can see Tile being a convenient device for travelers who want to track lost luggage. Or as a cheaper alternative to tracking a pet around town. Still, I can’t get behind paying $30 a year or more for a device. That helps me realize I’m always leaving my keys in the kitchen.