In many ways, I’m a creature of habit. Generally, I put my key ring in the same place when I walk in the door. Every so often the house keys aren’t where I expect them. I then start the process of trying to remember what I was doing and where I may have left them. (Unless the twins were over.) This tends to happen at the worst time when I have little time to spare. Instead of worrying, I now have an easy solution to find lost items using a small Tile device.
The Toll of Losing Items
I think the part I like least about losing items, whether it be house keys or paperwork, is you start to stress. One minute you’re fine and then you wonder if you’re losing your memory. Self doubt creeps in and you start talking to yourself and hoping no one is watching. And if someone is watching, you ask if they took your keys. Eventually, you find them and but fret about the time you spent searching. .
Sadly, I was finding this scenario more common even though I had a routine that served me well. The problem is that we’re continually interrupted, which takes us off course. These interruptions could be anything from phone calls, pets or the mailman. The result is the keys aren’t where I expect them. The result is your keys end up in the strangest places.
Tracking Technology to the Rescue
The good news is there are technology solutions available that can help you find your items. Some are very specific to items such as your luggage. Others are more versatile like Tile. Tile is a small plastic square that can either go on your key ring or be affixed to something. For example, you could use an adhesive tag to stick it underneath your bicycle seat. You could also drop it into a backpack. Below you can see it attached to my key ring.
In addition to the Tile hardware, you need to pair the device with your smart phone using Bluetooth and the Tile app. The service has apps for both iPhone and Android devices. The purpose of the app is to help you find your item like a GPS tracker. Once you’ve set up the app, you can use it to find your item or report it as lost. You indicate which tile you’re looking for and it will try to find it. If it’s in proximity, you’ll hear the device, which is quite useful. In my case, I’ve called the Tile attached to my keys “AT1”.
I’ve had the Tile and app for several years and it’s found my keys on various occasions in short order. If it hadn’t found my keys, I could mark them as lost. My Tile continues to work and if it comes within range of another Tile app user, it will push a notification to me with the latest location. You might think of this as “crowd finding”. You’re benefiting from all the other users around your Tile.
Update (12/7/2015) The new Tile is louder than the original and contains tiny speakers on the back side. It also includes a feature to find your phone by pressing the letter “E” on the Tile. This feature is handy because I didn’t need to have my phone’s “location” services turned on. The phone turned on and emitted an audible sound. Along those same lines, I also installed the Tile App on my iPad mini. Using the app on my smartphone, I was able to locate the iPad mini, which was in a different room.
Another difference I noticed was when I enabled the Tile app, it told me how many other Tiles were in my area. It was reassuring to see 915 other Tiles. According to Tile support, this is for my city.
The Pros and Cons of Tile
The biggest issue I’ve had is I don’t always have Bluetooth and location services running on my phone. I find both drain the phone’s battery. While the Tile app can find my keys just using Bluetooth if close by, the app may not show the last place on the map. Last week, I was in jury duty and had to turn off the phone while in court. I noticed today that the last known location of my keys were in the courthouse. The Tile app corrected the location once I turned location services back on.
- Easy to set up
- Small form factor
- Sold individually or in quantity packs
- Network can help spot other users lost items (Community Find)
- The Tile can help find your cell phone
- Battery not replaceable by user
- Bluetooth may drain phone
I would recommend this service to people who have compatible phones. It does need the latest version of Bluetooth so you should check to see if your cell phone will work with it. And while $25 for 1 Tile may seem like a lot, I’ve come to recognize my time is worth more than that.
Updated (12/07/15) – The review now reflects the new Tile version, which includes some new features and a louder tone. The pricing remains the same. Around the time my Tile would lose power, I did get a replacement offer for $12, which I used.
Updated: (11/6/16) – This week I got an email alerting me that my Tile was due for replacement. Again, the company has improved the tile by making it smaller.
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- Ease of Use
Tile is a versatile and portable means to locate a missing item. The small device can be affixed to an object or placed inside a backpack or purse allowing you to track the whereabouts via your smartphone. The service also leverages the phones of other Tile users to help locate lost items.