So almost a year after first placing my order my tiles have finally arrived.
First impressions? Quite similar to others – they’re bigger than I expected, but light too. When attached to the cats’ collars the tiles can look a little oversized although this seems to bother me more than it bothers them.
The tile uses bluetooth and as such its range is nothing amazing. I’ve dabbled with bluetooth location devices and know that the “works up to …” type claims need to be treated with some skepticism. So with realistic expectations I was unsurprised to find that I was lucky if detection would work from one end of the house or garden to the other, especially if there’s a brick wall or tree in the way.
The most intriguing aspect of the tile concept for me is the idea of the hive mind. Anyone else who has the tileapp installed on their iPhone or iPad should (in theory) be picking up my tiles if they’re in range of that person’s IOS device. This begs the rather interesting question, how many tiles are there in Durham? Given that mine have just arrived and I ordered mine pretty early on, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is close to zero. Especially as a fundamental part of the design philosophy is that you don’t know if you’re picking up someone else’s tiles and passing the location info on.
I ordered 8 tiles, a decision partly based on cost, and partly because the tileapp can only register 8 tiles to an account. I’m not sure how that works if you want some more tiles. Perhaps you have to set up multiple accounts. Eight tiles is a nice number. That’s one for each cat, keys, wallet and one or two to experiment with.
However the main problem I’m having with my shiny new tiles is connected to a pretty irritating limitation regarding the amount of accounts that can be registered to a particular tile. Bluetooth only allows one IOS device to be connected to a tile (or any other bluetooth peripheral for that matter) at any one time. Tile explain this in an FAQ and there’s some promising sounding developments about sharing devices in the pipeline.
No matter I thought – I have a spare iPhone after upgrading to the iPhone 5S. My old iphone 4S is still working fine so I decided to install the tileapp on that too and join the Hive Mind. It doesn’t seem to be possible to do much in the app without creating an account but no problem. I created another account with no tiles registered (although it keeps bugging me to do this). I think of this as a slave account. As far as I understand it anyone with an iPhone or iPad should if they wished be able to install the app and act as a sort of volunteer conduit of tile locations. I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work. In theory my iPhone 4S should sit quietly at home and covertly collect tile location info and pass it on the the hive mind. But it’s not working.
This is a snapshot of the app driving home after an overnight stay away. According to this screenshot the three cats, Rosie, Willow and Mr Mittens have been out of range for around a day. This isn’t the case: they are at home within bluetooth range of an iPhone 4S logged into a tile account.
Logging the iphone into the ‘live’ account sorts things out and the iPhone 4S at home faithfully notes the ‘last seen’ location of the various felines so the handset is working, as is my iPad. Which rather begs the question – if someone else is running the tileapp on their iPhone on their account – will it pick up my tiles and pass the information on? I suspect it may not and I can’t think of a way of testing this apart from what I’ve been doing, which would strongly suggest it doesn’t work. I emailed support via the tile website a few days ago, nothing back yet.