Technology

Tile’s 2022 vary has longer battery life, longer vary, and a UWB mannequin

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Enlarge / OK from left to right, we have: The Tile Pro, another Tile Pro, the credit card-style Tile Slim, Two Tile Mates, and the tiny Tile Sticker.

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It seems like everyone has been breaking into Tiles’ turf lately, from Apple with its AirTags to Samsung and its SmartTags. However, Tile won’t take it, and has launched an updated line of Bluetooth tracker products to help you find your stuff. Tile’s advantage over its big tech competitors is that it has the only platform-independent line of products. So unless you’re exclusively in the Apple or Samsung ecosystem and keep losing your car keys, Tile is worth a look.

The back of the Tile Pro if you're wondering where the battery goes.Enlarge / The back of the Tile Pro if you’re wondering where the battery goes.

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Tile Pro for $ 34.99, Tile’s only product with a user-replaceable battery, has a new, longer design that Tile says is modeled on a keychain. With more space, you get a better speaker and 400-foot Bluetooth range. It still takes a CR2032 battery (also known as a BIOS battery), which Tile says should last a year.

The other Tile products have permanent batteries that Tile says should last three years. After that, you need to replace the trackers. There’s the Tile Mate for $ 24.99 (Tile’s cheaper keychain tracker), the Tile Slim for $ 34.99 (a credit card-shaped tracker for your wallet), and the Tile Sticker for $ 29. $ 99 (a small plastic circle with tape) for items where a loop connector is unsustainable. The range of these three items has been increased to 250 feet, “a 25% increase for Mate and Slim and a 67% increase for Stickers,” according to Tile. Every new tracker, including the Pro, is IP67 dust and water resistant, so they should withstand being immersed in one meter of water for 30 minutes.

The four new trackers are now available on Tile’s website.

The “Tile Ultra” comes in 2022

Tile has also introduced the “Tile Ultra”, which will be released in 2022. It represents the company’s leap into the ultra-broadband market. Tile didn’t provide any images of the physical tracker, just a model of what the app’s interface will look like.
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Traditionally, tiles help you find an element by playing a tone. The trackers all have tiny speakers; You play a high-pitched little ringtone when you hit the locate button and you track the sound. Ultra broadband (UWB), on the other hand, is a new wireless technology that can physically locate an object in relation to your phone. An app displays an arrow surface on your smartphone that, like a compass, always points to the object you are looking for. The phone can also tell how far you are from the object.

The Tile Ultra UWB interface.  Having the camera feed as a background is a nice touch. Enlarge / The Tile Ultra UWB interface. Having the camera feed as a background is a nice touch.

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Whether you want UWB or sound location depends on your situation. If you are in the same room as your item, the sound will likely be faster. Most people can intuitively pinpoint the direction and distance of a sound, and you can search for the object instead of looking for your smartphone. If you can’t hear the tracker – for example, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, drop your car keys outside in the driveway, or look for checked baggage at a busy airport – UWB’s compass interface makes sense.

Tile calls the Ultra “Tiles Best Bluetooth Search Experience,” but the company doesn’t mention whether the device also has a speaker or can only be located using UWB. An ideal device would do both: ring when it is nearby and UWB when it is not within earshot.

UWB support is hard to come by right now. Apple provided the longest of support, starting with the 2019 iPhone 11, while Samsung started with the Galaxy S21 in 2021. Google is expected to ship UWB with the Pixel 6 next week and is only now introducing UWB APIs in Android 12. Tile says this will be “the first ultra-wideband tracker compatible with both Android and iOS devices”.

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