If you are gifted with the same talent I have for losing anything important the instant it comes into your possession, help may be on the way. Tile is bringing tiny, GPS enabled tags and an app to track them to iOS, and the system looks like a great way to track down everything from stolen bikes to where you put your wallet.
Tile takes the form of inconspicuous white tags that you can affix to whatever treasured belongings you’re most likely to lose — your keys, wallet, backpack, or really anything. The tags are GPS-enabled and synced to work with Tile’s app, which looks to have all sorts of handy ways to help you find lost items, from indicating whether you’re getting warmer or colder as you wander around the house trying to find your gym bag to emitting an electronic chirp that helps you echolocate your missing wallet. As for why you put your keys in the refrigerator in the first place…well, Tile can’t help you out with that one. Some mysteries were just never meant to be solved.
While being able to find anything you’ve lost from your iPhone is a nifty trick, it seems to leave one glaring hole — what happens if you lose your iPhone? Since the service is available on any iOS device, you can log into Tile under your username on a friend’s device and track your items from wherever you are, using whatever iOS gadget you’ve got at hand.
Also neat, in principle, is the larger network that Tile wants to create to help track lost or stolen goods. You can report an item as stolen on the service, which puts out an APB for it among other Tile users that operates in the background — in other words, your device will be looking for other people’s stolen good without you ever knowing it. If someone comes within scanning distance of your lost property, the network automatically sends a message alerting you of where your at-large item is without alerting anyone else. While the feature is a nifty idea, it also depends on Tile becoming ubiquitous for it to be most effective, so it probably won’t be much real help unless the service becomes popular.
One thing that could stand in the way of that popularity is the fact that Android devices aren’t supported on the service. Tile will only work with your iPhone or iPad, citing the lack of support for Bluetooth 4.0 on Android devices. Unfortunately, that means not only is Tile not starting off with Android compatibility, it looks unlikely that it will move to the platform anytime soon.
Still, if you’re an absent-minded Apple user (and we are legion) Tile could be a lifesaver — or at least a timesaver that cuts some frustration out of your life. If you want a look at how it works, bells and whistles (okay, electronic beeping noises) and all, take a look at the pretty impressive promo video below:
- If you’re phone doesn’t already have GPS, it will by 2018
- GPS your kid, then program a drone to follow him around
- Prescription pill bottles in New York have GPS, too