Tile Plans to Introduce Item Trackers With Ultra Wideband Support

Tile is poised to compete with Apple's long-rumored AirTags and is planning to introduce an upgraded series of item trackers that include an ultra wideband (UWB) chip for more precise tracking.

tile item tracker

Tile concept art for UWB tracker, via TechCrunch

Apple's AirTags are rumored to include the U1 ultra wideband chip that has been added into the iPhone 11 and ‌iPhone‌ 12 models. Apple's U1 AirTags will be able to offer better tracking capabilities than is possible with Bluetooth alone, which means that it is technology that Tile must match to remain competitive.

According to TechCrunch, Tile's upcoming item trackers will also use augmented reality capabilities to guide users to a lost item's location using the Tile mobile app. Apple is working on a similar solution and based on code that we've found in various versions of iOS, the AirTags too will rely on augmented reality to make it easier to find missing devices and accessories.

Prior Tile item trackers have relied solely on Bluetooth, which isn't as accurate as UWB because of the spatial data that the newer technology is able to collect.

Because UWB offers spatial awareness capabilities, it will be able to locate missing items inside or outside, even when you can't hear the tracker's ring. This could help when the missing item is buried under something -- like a sofa cushion -- or inside something like a dresser drawer, for example. It can also help to find items more easily in a larger space, like a house with multiple floors.

The Tile app, meanwhile, will allow users to launch to an AR-enabled camera view that will help to guide them to the item's location using overlays, like directional arrows and an AR view of the item's location.

The ‌iPhone‌ 11 and ‌iPhone‌ 12 models have U1 chips, and some Android phones support UWB, so these devices will be compatible with Tile's upcoming trackers. Apple provided third-party developers with access to the U1 chip in the newest iPhones last year.

Concept art for the new item tracker from Tile suggests it will look similar to Tile's existing trackers with a square shape, center button, keychain attachment, and a flat back that is compatible with adhesive.

Tile is planning to release the new item trackers later this year, and they will be compatible with iOS and Android devices. Apple has implemented a new system that allows item trackers to work inside the Find My app, but it sounds like Tile will be taking advantage of its own app for item location purposes.

There is no word on when Apple plans to release AirTags, and there have been signs of them in multiple versions of iOS. Many rumors suggested we'd see them before the end of 2020, but Apple has held off on a release. Earlier this week, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the AirTags would be released at some point in 2021.

Top Rated Comments

DevNull0 Avatar
41 months ago

I wonder what the meetings at Tile have been like over these past couple years Lol. To my knowledge this is their only product and it’s about to get side-stepped by Apple.

I’m sure they’ll be very successful still, but I’d be pretty ticked off haha.
I've used tile since long before air tags were a rumour. Tile has always been crappy, and the past couple of years they've gotten incredibly bad.

They want a few dollars a month to unlock most of the functionality in the app. I deny the app GPS data since I really don't see the need for them to constantly track my location just to make my tile beep when it's nearby. I get constant nag messages about that.
I turn my phone's bluetooth off once in a while because it sometimes interacts badly with my home theatre receiver. The tile app goes nuts with notifications when I do.
And since an update about 18 months ago, 95% of the time, the tile is unable to make my phone beep even though it's a core function. This is after making sure the app is running, bluetooth is on etc. So all it's good for is to make the tile beep from the phone.

Normally, I'm not an early adopter of Apple products, but I cannot wait for airtags to be released so they can put Tile our of our misery.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BC2009 Avatar
41 months ago
It looks very much like Apple delayed AirTags to add support for third-party implementations as well and included Tile as the partner in that.

I'd put my money on Apple announcing Find My support for third-party U1-enabled trackers and bringing Tile out on stage at their announcement.

Apple is trying to avoid anti-trust regulation in a big way right now and I can't see them gambling their more lucrative businesses on the potential revenue of AirTags.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Prodigy Avatar
41 months ago
The better to track you with, my dear! ?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Prodigy Avatar
41 months ago

will those be released before airtags
You mean "if" AirTags drop haha.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dammit Cubs Avatar
41 months ago
I use tile and have been using it for years. I love it but it's not without it's fault. I hate...hate......HATEEEEE the quality of this product. If Tile is reading this - I want to make this clear, every single product does not last a full year because the flexing in the product causes the speaker to fail...FAIL! so as I'm searching for it, I can't hear it.

This is why I want some AR specific logic so I can use my phone to see where it is.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iiiiiMAC!!!!! Avatar
41 months ago

It looks very much like Apple delayed AirTags to add support for third-party implementations as well and included Tile as the partner in that.

I'd put my money on Apple announcing Find My support for third-party U1-enabled trackers and bringing Tile out on stage at their announcement.

Apple is trying to avoid anti-trust regulation in a big way right now and I can't see them gambling their more lucrative businesses on the potential revenue of AirTags.
Quite a prediction
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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