Lost Your Remote? The Tile App Can Help

Have you heard about the sequel to the TV series, Lost? It’s called Found, and the premise is that the island is where all things lost end up: a missing sock, a runaway drone, a lost shaker of salt. Tourists arrive, and the lucky ones are reunited with their stuff.

In truth, thanks to the Tile App and a white plastic tile (1.5 x 1.5 x 0.2 inches) containing a Bluetooth receiver and audio emitter that you can affix to anything that might be misplaced (like all your remote controls), no one will be shouting “Da plane! Da plane!” any time soon.

Once you’ve downloaded the iOS or Android app and register your e-mail, you install each Tile by holding down the “e” until you hear the Tile play a tune. The default screen icon is the image of a Tile, but you can change it by using the camera in your mobile device to take a picture of whatever you don’t want to lose. I took a selfie holding the remote for my Pioneer AV receiver. I did the same with the remotes to my Sony Blu-ray player, Roku media receiver, and TiVo DVR, completing a set of cherished things that have been known to fall between cushions, get inadvertently kicked under the couch, or get tossed haphazardly into a bottomless basket of remotes.

The challenge is attaching a Tile to a remote. Though a Tile is thin enough to be slid into a wallet or latched to a lanyard (via the Tile’s hole), with a remote you need to apply an optional double-sided sticker. You stick one on the back of a Tile, peel off the covering, and press the Tile to your item. The adhesive is strong, so you get just one chance per sticker.

In a test, I pushed one of my Tile-fastened remotes into a couch crevice and walked to the far end of the apartment carrying my iPad before touching the Find button on the app. At more than 30 feet away, I could hear the Tile theme song. I had Gen 2 of Tile, which the company claims is noticeably louder than Gen 1.

The frequency-rising (131 to 8,000 hertz) song has no name (my Soundhound app confirmed no close matches), but if you get three or four Tiles going in a round, the cacophony is reminiscent of a 1980s arcade.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t replace the disc battery (about $1.99) myself. The company says that each Tile embeds 8,765 hours of power, which should be good for a year. Eleven months after activating your first Tile, you’re notified to “reTile.” You’ll receive a new Tile for about $12—roughly half the price of your initial Tile—which includes a mailer for recycling the original. A business plan based on recurring revenue from a power subscription seems brilliant, but I wonder if the folks who make “unofficial” ink cartridges have heard about this.

A 1.3 ounces, Tile is priced at $25, though you can get a four-pack for $70, and eight and twelve-packs bring the initial costs down further. The company used to include two stickers per Tile but now charges $3 per sticker. According to customer feedback, most users didn’t need them, simply inserting a Tile in a case or hooking it to their luggage or keychain. That said, it occurred to me that home theater users pinging Tiles on their remotes would be like drivers deploying GPS in their daily routines. At home or in their hometown, they’re unlikely to use either one much. The assurance that Tile brings is more suited for travelers. See thetileapp.com