You don’t consider yourself the forgetful type, yet somehow you can’t seem to find your car keys — on a regular basis. Misplacing your phone or your reading glasses isn’t unusual. And just where did you leave your wallet?
OK, so maybe you’ve had a lot on your mind or you can’t remember small details as well as you used to. No worries. Technology can help you find your stuff.
From tiny trackers and handy apps to personal assistants that can lend a helping hand, today's software and hardware might be all you need to locate everything from your car in a crowded mall parking lot to the TV remote stuck between sofa cushions.
Keep track of items tiny, even furry
Wouldn't it be great if you could attach a teeny thingamajig to all your things? If you couldn't find something, you simply could open an app to see where it is.
These trackers are available now. And they work quite well.
The Tile family of trackers is one of the oldest and best-known solutions. Attach a square Tile Mate, starting at $25 each or $100 for a package of four, though frequently discounted, to everyday items such as house keys, purses, suitcases, wallets or cats who like to hide.
If you can’t find the item, open the app and tap the name of the item, such as “Marc’s keys” or “Kellie’s purse.” The Tile will ring loudly up to 200 feet away and show you the item’s last known location on a map.
On the flip side, if you can’t find your phone, double-press an activated Tile Mate to make your lost phone ring, even if you’ve set it to silent.
The Tile Pro models (starting at $35 each or $100 for a package of four) also use Bluetooth, are more durable and have a range of up to 400 feet.
The newest members of the family are the Tile Sticker ($30 for one, $110 for a package of four), which is a much smaller, waterproof, adhesive-backed tracker that works up to 250 feet — ideal for TV remotes — and the Tile Slim ($35), a thin, credit-card-shaped tracker to slip into luggage tags, wallets and other hidden spots. It, too, works up to 250 feet away.
While your odds of finding a lost item drop considerably if it’s out of the house, you can leverage the community of Tile owners to help. Once something — or someone, such as your beagle who digs under the backyard fence to follow his nose — is marked as lost, if any opt-in member spots it, the owner automatically is notified with its location.
Apple releases AirTags
Apple has also released its own tiny trackers called AirTags ($29 for one, $99 for four), designed to help iPhone owners locate lost stuff.
Just like a Tile, an AirTag that’s attached to a backpack, key chain, luggage tag, purse or TV remote lets you locate the item within Apple’s Find My app. You can also ask Siri to find your missing item, and the AirTag will play a sound if it’s nearby.
But unlike Tiles and Samsung Galaxy SmartTags ($30 for one, $120 for four), AirTags also use ultra-wideband technology to more precisely lead you to your item’s location. If you’re on an iPhone with a U1 chip — iPhone 11 family and newer — you’ll see a directional arrow that points you to an AirTag’s location and indicates how far away it is, in real time. Your location data and history are never stored on the AirTag itself, Apple says.