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Tile's slimmest Bluetooth tracker won't bulk up your wallet

Engadget Engadget 31/08/2016 Nicole Lee
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Tile, which raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter over three years ago, is a popular Bluetooth tracker that helps you find your missing stuff. Aside from Bluetooth, it also uses a crowd-finding feature where other Tile app users can ping you the whereabouts of a Tile that's out of Bluetooth range. There was an update last year to Tile 2.0, which has a louder alarm plus it'll help find your phone as well. The problem with the existing Tile, however, is that it's a little chunky. That's why Tile has now introduced the Tile Slim, a much thinner version of the tracker that'll fit more comfortably in tight spots like wallets and passport holders. But that's not all. Tile has also announced a new initiative that just might bring Tile's location-finding smarts to anything and everything.

But let's talk about the Slim first. As the name suggests, it is a lot wider and flatter than the original Tile, measuring 54 by 54 by 2.4mm (or as Tile says, about the width of two credit cards). The design is also a touch different. There's a center Tile logo doubling as the button while the rest of the Slim surface has a pleasant embossed pattern. The rear is all grey, with a tiny cavity where the sound can get through. Unlike the original Tile however, there's no loop, so you can't use it as a keychain. But that's because the Slim wasn't designed to replace the original Tile; it's just another product in the Tile stable. So you can have the original Tile for your keys, say, and the Slim for your wallet.

I've used the original Tile with my wallet for over a year now, and it's always left a pretty sizable dent. I switched to the Slim a few days ago and now I can barely tell it's there. If you want, you can also adhere it to your laptop, your tablet, your ID badge or any place where a slim profile is key.

Another feature that sets the Slim apart is that you can select one of four different ringtones for the alert. They're called Bionic Birdie, Classic Call, Pep in your Step and Blues for Slim. This capability is only for the Slim and is mostly just for fun, though it could prove useful if you have multiple Tile trackers and want a way to differentiate them. To coincide with the announce of the Slim is also a redesigned app. It's mostly just a brighter reskin to match the company's current branding, but there's also now a slightly different flow when adding new Tiles. It'll ask you which Tile you're adding -- the Slim or the classic -- and then it'll coach you through the rest of the activation process.

Slim works a lot like the original Tile, but here's a brief primer in case you need a reminder on how it works. Once you've associated and attached a Tile tracker with an object -- say your keys or your wallet -- you can now use the app to find it. If the item is within Bluetooth range, the app will show it with a green circle. Tap it and the tracker will emit an alarm. If it isn't, it'll show you the location where it was last seen, so you can retrace your steps to look for it. Either that or you can select "Notify when Found," where it'll now turn to the aforementioned crowd-finding feature to help you find it. If anyone with the Tile app running goes near the object, you'll then get a location ping. There are around 6 million Tiles on the market in over 200 countries, so chances are pretty good that this will happen.

The Slim will retail for $30/£30 each, which is $5/£10 more than the original. You can also pay $100/£95 for a 4-pack. The Slim has a guaranteed battery life of a year. We should note that, just like all the other Tiles, the battery is not replaceable -- if the juice is running out, the app will let you know that you should replace it. The company does offer something called a reTile discount program that'll let you replace your existing Tile with a new one at a discounted rate. So instead of paying $30 for a new Slim, you could just pay $21 to replace the old one.

But imagine if you don't need to buy a Tile at all. Imagine if that same Tile location-tracking smarts was simply just built into whatever it is that you don't want to lose. That is the idea behind Tile's other big announcement today: The Tile Platform. "We want to blanket the world in smart location," says Mike Farley, Tile's CEO and co-founder. "Everything that moves should have smart location built into it."

So with that concept in mind, Tile is kicking off the Platform announcement today with three partners: EcoReco, an electric scooter company; Nomad, which makes a variety of backup battery packs and power banks; and Zillion, a maker of smartphone wallets with that battery pack built right in. Starting today, all three of these companies will start offering products with the Tile Platform. That means you would be able to use the Tile app to locate, say, a missing EcoReco scooter or a Nomad battery pack. Just add them to the app like you would with a Tile tracker and you can find them in the same way. Tile has already partnered with Land Rover to build the tech into the 2017 Discovery Sport.

Eventually, Farley says he wants the Tile Platform to be in even more things. "Any product that's mobile is fair game," he says. "The lowest hanging fruit is if it has Bluetooth in it already." So, a pair of Bluetooth headphones would be ideal, or a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, or maybe a smartwatch. In the future, he could even see the Tile tech integrated into everyday items like a remote control, a car's key fob, or perhaps a regular pair of glasses.

"We spend so much time every day finding misplaced stuff. That doesn't even factor in the cost and time it takes to replace them, nor the stress and anxiety," says Farley. "Our vision is that the world will be a simpler and happier place when the world has smart location."

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