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A panicked frenzy over misplaced items as you’re rushing out the door—we’ve all been there, and the stressful search has the potential to derail an entire day. Thanks to apps like Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager, finding an errant phone isn’t a lost cause. But what happens when non-electronic possessions get lost in the shuffle—your keys, wallet, or even a pet? Enter Tile, a tracking tag that enables your smartphone to help you hunt down all your misplaced things.
As the name suggests, each Tile takes the shape of a white square chip, roughly the size of a half-dollar. You can affix one to nearly anything you’d ever want to locate. Slip a Tile onto a key ring using the handy hole punched in the top left corner, use adhesive to stick one onto the remote, or simply place a Tile into the pocket of a bag or wallet. Then, just link up the device to your account on a mobile app. If the Tiled item ever goes missing, this tiny helper will enable you to scout it out via a map on your smartphone. It’ll tell you when you’re getting warm, and you can even have the app ring your Tile so you can follow your ears to dig it up—a very useful feature when you’re trying to find buried keys or a remote control that’s fallen behind the sofa.
Rather than utilizing GPS technology to find a real-time location, each tracker tag emits a Bluetooth signal that your phone will pick up when it’s within 100 feet of the tag. Fortunately, if you’ve stepped outside of that radius, the app keeps track of the last place it “saw” your item, which could be roughly where you last walked away from it—a helpful starting point for retracing steps if you’ve spent a day running errands and don’t recall if you left your wallet at a returns counter or on the table at your coffee stop.
Perhaps the app’s most fascinating feature is its access to an extensive network of Tile users, which can be key to locating those truly lost items. If a Tiled item of yours goes missing (say, a piece of luggage at the airport), use the app to report it as lost. Then, when any other phone running the app comes within 100 feet of it, the app will notify you of its location—without alerting the other user to lost goods nearby. Whereas before if you left your bag somewhere your only recourse would have been calling around to all the places you stopped at in a day’s worth of travel, now you can rely on a larger search party of strangers to get to the bottom of the case of the missing purse.
Purchase Tile, $25 each