Over the years I have blown hot and cold in my views on Tile, the bluetooth dongle that you attached to bag, keys and other items to keep track of them.
Tile, a History
I was early in and was frustrated by the slow time for order to delivery – over a year at the time of writing this post in 2014.
The fundamental flaw of the original Tile was that the battery was baked in and so when that died you were left with a useless piece of plastic. Tile did offer a replacement facility but the cost of the item plus postage was prohibitive to the UK I felt.
Last year Tile released a new version with a battery that you could replace which made them a much better proposition. Also since I had last looked at Tile they had licenced the technology to other parties and so it was available in other things.
The KeySmart Pro
One of these partners is KeySmart who produce a key organiser, basically two bits of plastic that sandwich together flat keys. They also produce the KeySmart Pro which really is worthy of the “smart” tag as it includes Tile functionality.
The KeySmart Pro operates in exactly the same way as a Tile device in that it appears in the Tile app allowing you to find the last location recorded, get it to “ring” to help you find it and set it as missing if necessary. The latter functionality uses the power of the crowd to hunt down and retrieve devices marked as missing.
On the KeySmart Pro itself are two buttons and a hidden micro USB port. The button labelled “tile” allows you to ping your phone and get that to ring helping you to find your phone. The button above that turns on a light at the very tip of the case which is useful for when you want to insert your key in the lock at night.
The micro USB port is there to allow you to charge the inbuilt battery. Battery life is suggested to be about three months and it is here that I have my biggest gripe – there is no way of telling when the battery is low and it is easy to forget to check and have it go weeks without a charge meaning it isn’t updating the Tile app. Checking the battery is easy enough – just push the light button – but I would have liked a notification in the app as a reminder.
I like these key organisers and until the KeySmart Pro arrived I was a happy Keystone user. The KeySmart Pro is great for finding your keys and the light is a neat touch (although you can do that with your phone) but I don’t think that it is really enough to justify the price.
More of a problem for KeySmart and Tile itself is that it is rumoured that Apple is working on their own version of Tile. This would obviously be more expensive (as everything Apple is), would have close Apple device integration and would be slickly done (as everything Apple is). It would also have a huge user base to help find missing items. If the rumours turn out to be true then it could be curtains for Tile.
- compact, easy way to carry your keys
- feels great in hand or pocket, no jangly or rough edges
- tile functionality works well
- can do much with existing tech
- likely to be superseded by Apple at least
- have to remember to charge and no indication when battery running low