With the lost-item tracker space likely to get crowded in the next few months, Tile is reportedly working on a new device that could help keep the startup at least competitive against the likes of Apple and Samsung. According to TechCrunch, the company is developing a tracker that will use ultra-wideband (UWB) tech, instead of Bluetooth, to help you find lost items. UWB is a relatively new short-range wireless communication protocol that has a handful of advantages over the ubiquitous Bluetooth. Its high-frequency waves can transmit spatial and directional data, making it more accurate at estimating the location of something.
It has so far made its way into several newer phones. Most notably, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 support the protocol through Apple’s U1 chip. Some Android devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 2, also include UWB. Alongside the new tracker, Tile is reportedly developing an AR feature within its app that will help guide you to the device. Concept art TechCrunch obtained of both the tracker and AR feature provides an idea of what they’ll look like. In short, Tile is unlikely to reinvent the wheel here when it comes to the design of the tracker, but the AR finding experience looks like it will be a useful addition to the company’s app.
According to TechCrunch, Tile will release its new tracker later this year, and it will work with both Android and iOS devices. The company will continue to sell its existing Bluetooth trackers, given that so few phones come with UWB at the moment. There’s no word on pricing yet.
It’s something of an open secret that Apple and Samsung are developing their own trackers. Apple has seemingly been on the verge of announcing its long-rumored AirTags for what seems like the last two years. Meanwhile, Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy Smart Tags at its upcoming January 14th Unpacked event. Tile has so far dominated the market, but the challenge it has ahead of it is trying to find a way to match or surpass the first-party experience Apple and Samsung will offer through their devices.