Wednesday , April 26 2017

Tile — Australian Review

I can be absent-minded, especially, it seems, with my keys. I’ve tried always putting them in the same place, which works whenever I remember, alas between not paying attention, kids, pets and spouses, my keys, and occasionally wallet, regularly go missing. Enter smart trackers to save the day. I’ve spent the last month with two smart trackers from Tile, the Tile Mate and the Tile Slim.

Upfront I can unequivocally confirm I have both misplaced and immediately located my missing keys thanks to this little device. So what is a Tile? Tile is a Bluetooth locator that can be attached to various things, from keys, to pets, to handbags, you get the idea. Via an app, on your phone, you can tap on the missing device and if it’s in Bluetooth range and connected to your phone it will start ringing, and it shall be missing no more.

Hardware

The Tile comes in two sizes, the Mate which is the traditional keyring style device measuring in at 34mm x 34mm x 4.65mm, and the Slim which is 54 x 54 x 2.4mm, which can sort of fit into a wallet, it’s about the thickness of 3 credit cards. Both feature two-way locating so that not only can you locate your valuables with your phone but with a Tile, you can actually locate your phone, handy. The last feature of the Tile is the ability to locate lost or stolen things.

While Tile doesn’t include a GPS what it does have is a community location feature. If you mark one of your devices as missing the Tile back-end can use all of the other Tile owners devices to “search” for the missing device. What this really means is that when the Tile App passively receives a device’s unique identifier this would be handed back to the server. This list of found devices would be matched against the list of missing devices and if your missing device was found you get notified of the approximate location.

I actually tested this at a local Hospital for 7 days. I used double sided tape to affix a Tile to the roof of a coffee stand and set it to missing. Unfortunately, during the test, the Tile was never found. This wasn’t one of the major Hospitals so I’m not sure how representative this would be of a typical traffic sample. I’m considering redoing the test at a shopping centre where the mix of people would be more representative of the general community and the chance of encountering another Tile user would probably be higher.

The Tile App

The app is the central manager of your Tile experience with the ability to add new Tiles and manage the ones you have. Using the app you can customise the “ringtone” of each tracker as well as the name and category of the Tile. The main use for selecting the ringtone seemed to be choosing a tune that you could hear easily. We all having different degrees of hearing to different frequencies so being able to choose from a few tones to find one you find the loudest is not a bad idea.

The app is also where you can click to find a Tile or mark one as missing to use the ‘crowdsourced’ location system. Overall it’s a simple app, but then again it has a simple purpose. I found it easy and intuitive to use.

The Tile, unfortunately, does not have a replaceable battery so once it has gone flat it’s time to replace it. This does allow the Slim to be, well slim, as it doesn’t rely on off the shelf batteries, however, it does mean you’re looking at a continual replacement of the devices. Each tile should last around one year if you don’t fiddle with them too much. I’m expecting to get about 4 months out of mine, as I just love hiding the slim in people’s desks, behind monitors etc and setting it off, yeah, I’m that guy in the office!

With an Australian retail price of $39.95 for the Tile mate and $44.95 for the Tile Slim they’re not “expensive” however, I also wouldn’t want to be replacing a dozen of them every 12 to 18 months. There are some combo packs, 2 x Mate and 2 x Slim for $129.95, which is a $37.85 saving over the set. Additionally, you can often find the devices on sale both in store and on Tiles own Website.

Conclusion

For me I’m sold, I will forever have a tracking device on my keys if not on other things as well, in bigger news my wife has actually requested a piece of technology. Having seen me instantly find my missing keys and suffered through having to find her own a few times the unquestionable utility of these Bluetooth locators has become evident to my extremely tech adverse spouse, well-done Tile, well done.

I’d actually love to see this be compatible with IFTTT or even better Stringify, that would allow me to use a Tile as a Bluetooth home automation button, assuming a paired Bluetooth device was in range, I’d be more than happy to repurpose an old phone for that.

While the semi-annual replacement cost is a consideration, as is the environmental impact of the e-waste this would generate, I am hopeful that Tile may have a replacement program where you can “swap devices” that will get recognition and recharged ready for the next tile user. There are similar programs in the USA so all hope is not lost.

If you’re not prone to losing you stuff or having it lost for you, here’s the question for you, do your this ever get misplaced? If the answer is yes I’d say give a Bluetooth locator a go, they are well worth it, oh and if you the office prankster you need some of these in your kit!!

 

Duncan Jaffrey   Associate

  • Kai

    spouseS? You get more and more interesting with each post Duncan 🙂

    • Duncan_J

      why have 1 driving you insane when you can have multiple!

  • Adam J

    I received the same, Slim and Mate, as a gift last month. I like the reverse feature the best – double clicking the button on my keys Tile to have the phone sing out.

    They’re definitely useful if you have young kids who disappear your stuff, but not sure I’ll buy any more after the batteries run out as they seem a bit pricey. That’s probably in part due to the totally excessive packaging.

  • Prepagan

    For mislaid keys around the house this just looks like a much much more expensive version of the gadget that used to let out a beeping when it heard you whistle – I believe they are still available.

    For keys (or anything else for that matter) lost further afield the review here suggests it will be pretty much useless until such time as everywhere you are likely to visit is regularly frequented by numbers of other Tile owners – I’m not holding my breath!

    Or am I missing something?

  • Tibbso

    Too expensive in Australia to become popular enough for the ‘crowdsourced finding lost items’ feature to work, unless you only lose things in a ‘tech-hipster’ pub or at a nerd convention. Have seen lots of ads for these though so Australian distributor is trying but they need to permanently drop the price, we aren’t all mining and property millionaires despite what tech distributors believe.

  • Kevin Cane

    Very off topic, but does anyone know what brand that key/valet tray is in the main picture?

    • Duncan_J

      We’ll ask Tile PR for you 🙂

      • Kevin Cane

        Thanks 🙂

  • Phill Edwards

    I had one of these from another manufacturer a couple of years ago (sorry I forgot the name). They were honestly the most disappointing piece of technology I have ever bought. No exaggeration. The noise the thing made was so weak it was inaudible even in the same room. Bluetooth has a range of approx 10m so you could only find something if you were almost standing on top of it.
    And crowd sourced GPS is a massive marketing con. Well done on setting up the experiment. It would be very interesting to do it in a more public space, like a shopping mall as you suggest, and see what happens. My bet is that nothing will happen. Zilch. Nada.

    • I don’t have a Tile, but I do have a Trackr, which works on the same concept. I might go put it in a shopping centre today and see how it goes…

  • svict4

    For the first time ever, I saw one of these in the wild just this morning! My Uber drive had it and after I inquired he couldn’t stop talking about it’s benefits.

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