We talked about Phone Halo a couple of years ago, when the accessory company was making its own product: A little tracking tag that connected up to your keys or anything else you wanted to hang on to and used a free iPhone app to alert you whenever you needed to find them or whenever they wandered out of range. Since we last talked to them, Phone Halo was able to cut a deal with popular accessory manufacturer Cobra (best known for making speedtrap detectors) and has released the Cobra Tag, a branded and updated version of Phone Halo's original device.
The company showed the model off to us at WWDC, and it was suitably impressive: The tag is small, well-designed and works over Bluetooth, with any combination of alerts available. You can search for the tag from the phone or vice versa, and you can have alerts set up for "disconnects" (when the tag leaves the iPhone's Bluetooth range). The app, available for free from the App Store, even tracks the GPS location of the disconnect when you flip it into recovery mode. So while you can't track your keys directly, you can at least see where it was you lost them.
There's a lot of impressive things being done here: The tag has an LED light built in, so you have audio and visual feedback when you need to track it. And you can completely customize the iPhone's alerts, even down to choosing a song to play when a disconnect happens. The app runs in the background all of time, and it will even override your mute settings so you'll never miss an alert. Facebook and Twitter are integrated as well, If you consistently need to track keys or anything else around your iPhone, the Cobra Tag is a great solution.
There is one major issue with the product, and that is battery life. The tag lasts for quite a while, but the biggest drain is on the phone, which needs to keep up a Bluetooth connection constantly, as well as GPS tracking. As you might imagine, that's a solid drain on the hardware.
Now, if you really need to track your keys, that might not be a problem. If you usually keep your iPhone plugged in all day, like at the office or while sleeping at home, you probably won't have a big issue keeping your battery going. And if you absolutely need to track something, the extra battery use will probably be worth it. So while battery life can be a concern, it shouldn't rule out everyone on a product like this. The Cobra Tag is available now for about $60 at retail.
Phone Halo also showed us something else they're working on: An app that will be able to track any Bluetooth device, not just the Cobra Tag. Using a generic Bluetooth headset or any Bluetooth device, the new app will be able to do all of the same things that the Cobra tag can do. It's very impressive.
Phone Halo is still working on that app. It's hoping to team up with a sponsor of Bluetooth products or someone else to be able to provide the functionality to users for free, and still be able to make money off of the product. But however this tech reaches consumers like us, it certainly seems like Phone Halo is working hard on making it as cheap and easy as possible to track external devices from your iPhone.