The white rounded square-shaped item in the above image is a Tile. It is promoted as the answer for those of us who have a habit of losing things. I admittedly, am one of those people. So in 2013 when I noticed the online ad for Tile which stated, “Stick a Tile to anything and track it with your device” I had to jump on the early adopter bandwagon. I purchased four to attach to my potentially wayward items.
How did my real-life testing go?
It went well overall with one glaring concern; that no one else around me has one. As a result, I kind of feel like the first person who bought a fax machine. It will be a much better experience when other people in my community start using them.
If you’re thinking about picking one up, then here’s my take:
Easy to set up
As this blogger shows, it is an easy process to assign your Tile to something and then activate it. When I first attached my Tiles, I had no communication issues. It should be easy for anyone. Just make sure you have an iPhone or Android device.
Bigger and thicker than I expected
When I first pulled the Tiles out of the box they seemed larger than I expected them to be. I don’t think the company intentionally misled people, but the ads that were circulating the internet did a great job of hiding the thickness of these things.
This may not be a big deal for most people, but it comes into play when you make your careful decision as to which ‘thing’ you are going to attach it to. When I decided to secure my Tile to my keyring, I found that it looked more like a vacation souvenir rather than a discrete tracking device. I did it anyway.
I also opted NOT to attach one to my remote control because I didn’t like how much it bulked up the look of my Apple remote. Instead, I went straight to my dog’s collar. That seemed like a good idea at the time.
Don’t let your dog get out of range
The most frustrating part about having a Tile is that it’s not like the ‘Find My iPhone’ app which uses satellite GPS to help my find my phone every time I forget it at the movie theatre. Yes I’ve done that . . . multiple times.
Tiles instead use Bluetooth technology; which means that you need to be within 150 feet of your Tile in order for you to know where it is. This is fine if you’ve just lost your keys in your house or if another lost item ends up within range of another Tile user. But if you’re like me and you live in a small town with no other Tile users then you really don’t want your Tiled ‘thing’ (i.e. dog) running away. Chances are, she’s not going to run towards another Tile user. It’s just better to put your phone number on her collar.
Tracking our suitcases
Another fun test I did was attaching a Tile to my luggage when my wife and I took off for our last vacation. It was a relief to be able to open the Tile App on my iPhone and confirm that our suitcases were indeed on same plane as us and not somewhere else. I was also able to confirm the safety of our suitcases when we got home; while waiting for our luggage to come down the conveyer belt.
Tiles are expected to last a year and I’m told that just before your year is up, the Tile company will send you instructions for how to order a replacement ($25) and how to send back your expired Tile to be properly recycled. There is no way to just swap out the battery.
The Tile is a great idea and could be worth the $25 if you have something valuable that you would like to track; especially if you live in a city where there is a greater potential for other Tile users. However, if you’re like me and would really only use it for finding your keys or your remote control, then it would just feel like a yearly ‘stupid tax’ to buy a device that reminds you that the remote is lost again inside the couch and that your keys are in your other jacket.