Sometimes it’s the simple things that end up being the most useful. Aside from always looking for the latest and greatest when it comes to smartphones, we also like to keep an eye out for the most useful accessories that make the most use out of our phones as well. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen some interesting “smart” accessories come out: we have smartwatches, fitness trackers, and even smart glasses. However, one of the most useful smartphone accessories to surface yet, in my opinion, are the key trackers.
Key trackers are pretty much exactly what they sound like. We’ve all had those panicked moments where we’re pacing around the house, frantically trying to figure out where our keys must have gotten up and walked away to. They’re not in our purse, they’re not in our pockets, they’re not in the washing machine or the dryer, they’re not in between the couch cushions - where the hell are they? Most of the time you’ll get lucky and you’ll find them; other times... maybe not so much. I once lost a set of keys for about 8 months, and only found them stuck between the couch and the wall once I moved. Yeah, never thought to look there.
But that’s why key trackers are so nifty - because they take out the guesswork in such situations. You have the key tracker on your keys, or whatever it is that you don’t want to lose, and you download an accompanying app that will help you locate your keys. If it’s a really good key tracker, it can work both ways: the app can help you find your keys, or your key tracker can help you find your phone. Noice!
There are already a few key trackers available, or soon to be available, on the market right now. Some of the options are Motorola’s new Keylink, Nokia’s Treasure Tag, TrackR, and Tile. While each of these key trackers perform similar functions to one another, there’s also key (hurr hurr) differences between them as well. Here are some pros and cons that I’ve found between each of these four models:
Pros: Affordable at $24.99; replaceable battery that lasts a year; finds your keys and finds your phone; compatible with iOS and Android; looks nice; splash proof; can keep your phone unlocked if your keys are nearby; works up to 100 feet away, or uses a GPS locator.
Cons: Doesn’t work with Windows Phone or BlackBerry; only good for finding one thing.
Verdict: The Motorola Keylink is one of the cheapest and simplest options available, and it’s good for if you only want to find one thing. The replaceable battery and somewhat waterproof design is nice. It kinda stinks that it only works with Android and iOS, though.
Pros: Works with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android; comes in 3 different colors; reaches up to 130 feet; replaceable battery; affordable at $30 a pop.
Cons: Kind of large and gaudy looking; battery only lasts 6 months, which is half the time of the other 3 tracking devices; no BlackBerry support; no live GPS updates. At least we have Windows Phone support this time.
Verdict: The Treasure Tag is one of the key trackers with the longest near-distance tracking available at 130 feet. It’s also the only tracker in the list that supports Windows Phone as well (and it would be a pity if it didn’t, being a Nokia device). However, its large gaudy design and inability to live track the thing you attached it to kind of kills it. Apparently, there will be a mini release coming soon, so that's good.
Pros: Can easily attach to multiple things (up to 8); crowd source GPS locations (meaning you can help others using Tiles help find their things as well); 100 foot support; affordable at $25 each, and discounts start when you buy 4 or more Tiles; discreet design.
Cons: Non-replaceable battery, so you would have to replace your entire fleet of Tiles after about a year; can’t help you find your phone; again, no Windows Phone or BlackBerry support.
Verdict: It’s nice that Tile allows you to track multiple things at once, and up to a whopping 8 things. The $25 starting price is also nice, and the additional discounts that start once you purchase 4 or more is even better. The only problem with Tile is that it can’t help you locate your phone, which is one of the things that I personally would like to keep track of.
Pros: Quarter-sized tracking device; nice, clean, and discreet design; affordable at $29 each, with discounts starting after you purchase two; replaceable battery that lasts for about a year; crowd sourced GPS locator, similar to Tile; custom laser engraving available; distance indicator; can help you find your phone or your things, it works both ways; multiple colors to choose from; Android and iOS support.
Cons: Special accessory needed to waterproof TrackR - it would have been better if this was built in; only available for pre-order right now, and won’t ship until the beginning of 2015; no Windows Phone or BlackBerry support.
Verdict: TrackR is probably the most versatile of the group. With almost all of the distinctive features of Tile, plus the ability to find your phone, plus the extra discounts that start after purchasing just two TrackR devices make it a shoo-in. The biggest downside is that if you were hoping to purchase this as a gift for yourself or somebody else in time for the holidays, you’re unfortunately going to have to wait.
All in all, I love the idea of key trackers - especially the ones that allow you to track more than one thing, as a woman who has many important things that she’s constantly losing track of. I think it’s kind of a bummer that most don’t support Windows Phone, and none support BlackBerry - apparently Windows Phone and BlackBerry users don’t lose their things like everybody else does. Aside from that, though, it’s one of the most affordable and helpful smartphone accessories to appear on the market, and a product that I plan on investing in sometime in the near future myself.