*Update: Tile can be purchased through T-Mobile, and they are the only wireless carrier offering Tile this holiday season. You can check out Tile and the “Uncarrier” here.*
There are two common refrains in my house: “Have you seen my keys?” and “Hey, can you call my phone, I can’t remember where I left it!” Well, there’s also “Stop grabbing the dog’s ears.” and “Please stop licking [the toddler].” Tile can’t help with the dog/toddler wars, but it CAN help with lost keys and phones!
Tile is a simple piece of square plastic with a hole on one end for easy clipping to keys, bags, etc. It has one button, cleverly blended into the “e” in TILE printed along one side, and it’s fairly small and unobtrusive. To use it, you just pair it via an app with your phone, and it uses Bluetooth to record the location of the Tile. This way if you leave your keys at home, or in your friend’s car, or in the office, you can see that by pulling up the last known location on the Tile app. If you know you’re in the same area as your lost Tile, but you can’t find it, the app can trigger a loud noise. Likewise, if you can’t find your phone but you have the Tile, you can double click the button on the Tile to get your phone to play a tune and alert you to it’s location. This works even if your phone is on silent; you just need to be within 100ft or so of the phone, since that’s the Bluetooth range.
All that’s pretty cool, but Tile has one more trick up their sleeve. There’s a feature called “community find“, where any phone running the Tile app can pick up the signal from a lost Tile and update the location. You don’t receive any information on the lost Tile directly (unless it’s yours, of course) but it means that if you leave your keys in a restaurant, anyone in the restaurant with the Tile app is going to update the main Tile servers with the location of your lost keys. It’s a cool way to leverage a community of users but still maintain privacy, and it means even if you’re way out of range of your lost item, it isn’t necessarily gone for good.
Tile says the battery will last at least one year, and they say they’ll replace old Tiles at a fraction of the cost of a new one. Since the MSRP on a brand new Tile is only $25 [and buying in bulk reduces that price], that means replacements are likely to be very wallet-friendly, even if you do need to replace them once a year.
There’s a few things to consider with Tile, and while I didn’t find them to be deal-breakers they’re worth noting. One, you do need to have Bluetooth turned on for it to work. I have my Bluetooth on all the time because I’m always using a wearable of some sort, but if you’re the type to monitor every drop of battery life and keeps Bluetooth off when not needed, you’ll have to adjust to that. Second, the Tile is not huge, but it’s big enough to be noticeable on a keyring; I would say it’s akin to a regular keychain accessory, so not oversized, but you’ll notice the Tile if you shove your keys in your pockets. On the upside, the Tile seems quite sturdy, and I can’t imagine regular use would break the attachment hole at all, so as long as you use a quality keyring or clip, it’s not going anywhere.
I think there’s three things that make Tile one of those simple but useful utilities. It’s inexpensive, especially relative to the cost of replacing car keys or a lost bag. The app is simple to use, and once you set it up there’s not much to do unless you need to find your lost Tile. And finally, the fact that the Tile can also find the paired phone is a really useful benefit, and saves a lot of time checking pockets, couch cushions, under the bed, etc. for a lost phone!
Tile is simple, cheap, and easy to use, and would make a great small gift or stocking stuffer this holiday season; plus you can buy them through T-Mobile exclusively this holiday season!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: App is easy to use; setup was quite simple; long battery life; can track lost phone as easily as the phone can track a lost Tile.
What Needs Improvement: Slightly bulky for a keyring item.