Apple AirTags Didn’t enjoy the positive press the company was probably hoping for. While small devices are great for keeping tabs on the things you often miss in your life (minus your children), they also generated controversy, as stalkers used them to track people down. Not cool. But AirTags aren’t the only trackers on the market. They’re following in the footsteps of Tile, a company that seems to be trying something a little different in the tracking business.
Tiles are no stranger to making trackers. The company, of course, pioneered its own Tile trackers years before Apple entered the ring. Unlike AirTags, which are all the same, Tile makes trackers in different shapes, sizes, and styles, to fit keychains, purses, and just about anywhere else you can think of to tag your items. Tile devices also work just like AirTags, only within the Tile ecosystem. Just as AirTags communicates with Apple devices in the Find My network to update their locations, Tile trackers communicate with phones running the Tile app.
It is possible that Tile has not received the same level of media attention or criticism because it operates on a much smaller scale. With Tile, you have no idea if someone has the app or not. With AirTags, anyone with an iPhone becomes a homing beacon. However, Tile faces the same potential privacy issues as AirTags. Perhaps that’s why the company offers a simple, bare-bones version of its product: QR code stickers.
Tile calls them “Lost and Found Labels,” but for all intents and purposes, they are QR code labels. Stickers are very simple: you can paste a product you want to keep tabs on, then activate it using the Tile app. Once you’ve done that, you can decide how you’d like to be contacted in case someone stumbles upon the missing item, whether that’s your email address or phone number.
Unlike Tile trackers, they don’t need the Tile app to communicate with you: all a good Samaritan has to do is scan a QR code the same way they would, say, a restaurant menu, and they’ll have access to your chosen means of communication.
The other benefit here over traditional trackers is the lack of battery. That might be obvious, since they’re stickers, but it means you don’t need to worry about replacing the battery on your tracker after a year, or replacing the whole thing altogether. They’re even dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about your tumbler losing its sticker after one wash cycle.
Sure, you lose out on the convenience of passive tracking, since Labels won’t be able to automatically communicate with passing devices. But Labels might work almost as well. We humans are curious beings. We see a label, we scan that label. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that each Label is printed with four “Scan if found” messages, for when a less-curious person walks by your lost item.
Tile sells its Lost and Found Labels in an odd way, at least for the time being. You need to buy three sheets of five labels at one timeTotal 15 QR code stickers. That gets you up to $14.99, or actually, $1 a tag. I’m not sure why you can’t buy individual sheets, but for now, that’s how it’s done.