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Apple AirTag vs Tile: Know which one can save your day!

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: Keyfinders are nothing short of blessing for those who don’t want to loose their keys, wallet, or basically any of their valuable possessions. To help people track down their lost items, technological masterpiece like AirTags and Tiles are in the market that can help you trace down the location of your possessions through your mobile if you attach or slip these devices into your bag or wallet. If you misplace these devices or cannot find your wallet, you can use the app on your smartphone to make the keyfinder emit a noise so that it’s easy to track it and find it. But, what if your phone is too far away from the keyfinder? Will you be still able to track down the device and reach to your lost item?

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Interestingly, the answer is YESSS! both Apple and Tile use community help from its other users to help you find your tracker if your phone is too far away from the device. People using the Tile app or an iPhone with the latest update can anonymously update the location of your lost keyfinder if they happen to pass by it. So even if you are far away, if another Tile user or iPhone user (with iOS 14.5 on their device) happens to pass by your keyfinder, the location will be incorporated helping you find it.

In theory, this is super helpful, but how long does this process take? Apple has a “potential user base of 1.65 billion users and Tile has 36 million. So which keyfinder can be faster?

To test it ‘TechRadar’ placed an AirTag and a Tile out of range of smartphones and timed how long it took to be discovered by other users. While, AirTags have the user base to their advantage, Tile has a more “entrenched solution”, and here’s what happened next.

The hunt for the best began at 9 AM on a Monday, when the team placed an AirTag and a Tile Mate behind a street sign on a busy street about a mile away from a home location. Once back home, both the keyfinders were marked as lost on their respective apps on the iPhone, a stopwatch was kicked off and the wait began.

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As the clock started to tick, within 30 minutes a notification popped up with the location for the lost AirTag, it had been identified by a passing iPhone. But to their amaze, the location given was of the road that ran parallel to the original location of where the AirTag was placed. Throughout the day the same “wrong” location was confirmed 13 different times while the AirTag remained behind that street sign.

However, when the’ Precision Finding’ feature – that uses Ultra Wideband radio technology to identity the direction and distance your iPhone is from the AirTag – was used it solved matters in finding the exact location of the AirTag.

On the other hand, Tile seemed to lost this battle to Apple’s AirTag as it took almost 12 hours for someone from community to detect the Tile Mate and send a location. The Tile Mate too was still in its original location and the community update that came in for it placed it a few meters away from where it was. Community location-wise, the Tile was better placed than the AirTag, though the AirTag was detected much faster.

Notably, both the companies use community information to find the devices once your phone is out of range of the keyfinder. The large size of Apple’s user community makes it easier to be reunited with a lost AirTag as compared to a Tile, particularly in the area where the test was carried out. But since the user community ratio is also skewed in most other parts of the world, the results might be the same elsewhere too.

Also, to detect an AirTag, the iPhone or the iPad needs to be running iOS 14.5 and also have the ‘Find My iPhone’ feature turned on. While, Apple has not disclosed how many devices have iOS 14.5 and Find My iPhone running actively, in January this year the company had revealed there are 1.65 billion Apple devices in active use and 80% of them run iOS 14. It is to be mentioned that, to locate an AirTag you need to be on iOS 14.5, which is still rolling out so these numbers will potentially rise.

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