The Tiles are here! Hooray! How long have I been waiting? It feels like a year but surely wasn’t longer than 365 days.
It’s been a while since I backed the Tile project. I spent US$ 60 for four Tiles, that’s approximately €40, which makes for €10 per Tile. Kind of okay for a tech gadget.
They arrived in a simple package, together with some double sided adhesive, so one can attach the Tiles to any surface (of course also to any Surface, if you don’t want to loose track of that…;-)).
The first impression
It was not that “wow” effect. I did not want to tear it open like with a new iPhone. I guess, it’s because I have been waiting so long. The Tiles are square shaped and white. The “e” of the “tile” is a button. Top left, there’s a hole big enough to attach a tile to a keyring and even to a thicker rope. The Tile itself cannot be opened, it is waterproof – this also means, the battery cannot be changed. As of know, there is no information at what price a Tile can be replaced if it runs out of battery. Battery life is said to be around one year, which is ok for a €10 device I think.
The second impression
My wife expressed what I thought, but did not say, probably because I paid for the devices: “they are too big”. She’s absolutely right about this. It is not necessarily the width and height but rather the thickness that’s (I would say) about 50% too much. We expected them to be thinner. If you attach a Tile to a keyring it might prevent you from putting your keys back into your pocket.
I gave one Tile to my wife, one each to my kids and kept one for me. We registered them on my iPhone, using the iOS app from the App Store.
Then we played hide and seek in the house. Tiles are supposed to be detectable within a range of about 100 feet – or 30 meters in real units. When my daughter went into the office (door open) that was 5m away, contact to the Tile was lost. Possibly, the experience outside is better. We have to test that.
But back to a real world use case: attach the Tile to a keyring and drop it on the couch so it will fall behind the pillows, then try to to track the keys down. Result: no chance. The app shows a circle that slowly fills green the closer one gets to the Tile. However the updates are so slow that you will have to walk around in slow motion. If the device is in reach, you can also make it play a sound. That works but really is not much different from the key finders we had in the 80s, where clapping our hands would make them beep (the devices, not the hands).
For now, it is nothing but a toy. It is okay for the price but it’s nothing I will use. If they manage to gain a huge user basis, then the story might be different. If other users are able to anonymously track my Tiles and make their iPhones report the location back to me, that’s a game changer. But I do not see this happen and until then the Tiles are a fancy keyring add-on but not more. Maybe the iOS app can also be improved to be more responsive to location changes and there is one thing that really bugs me: we registered the Tiles to my iPhone. Then I had to leave and my kids wanted to play hide and seek, so my wife thought, she would just re-register two of the Tiles on her iPhone. This is not possible! Instead one has to contact customer support and it will take 1 or 2 business days to unregister a Tile. I do not see why this cannot be done through the app via a code instead.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, also on Twitter @csharX_net