Tile was an early Selfstarter success story, and now it's hitting the big leagues. Starting today, there's a new version that will be available both online and in retail stores. The Tile is designed to help you find your keys — or purse, or basically whatever else you can attach it to. That remains unchanged — pair it to your iPhone or Android device and you can tap a button on your phone to make the little square dongle beep. Tile says that said beep is three times louder now and will work within 100 feet — both claims ring (ahem) true in my testing. Tile also has another clever feature — if you lose something, you can tell the Tile hive mind and every Tile user's phone will start looking for it. If it's detected, you'll get an alert on your phone — but the user who came near it won't know, protecting your privacy and your stuff.
Every phone can become a Tile now
Tile has also updated its app: now it lets the Tile system ring your phone if it's lost, effectively creating a backup find-my-phone system. There's a new web app for finding both Tiles and phones, and there's also an Apple Watch app. The new Tile hardware has a button hidden in the logo that you can now double-tap to make your phone ring if it's in Bluetooth range — even if it's on silent. On Android, one sort of annoying thing about the system is that you can't quit the app if you want it to work. That does mean you can kill it and save battery, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to live in the notification tray.
The new Tile isn't quite as thin as I'd like — it's about 3/16th of an inch thick, which makes it a bit much to put into anything but a Costanza Wallet. It also has a fully sealed battery, but Tile says it lasts about a year before it needs replacing. All that said, it's about as dead-simple and full-featured as you'd want a Bluetooth key-finding gizmo to be. A single Tile costs $25, but anybody can install the app on their phone, even if they don't purchase a Tile.