Here are 5 ways tech can help find your phone, keys, parked car or pet

You don’t consider yourself the forgetful type

You don’t consider yourself the forgetful type, yet somehow you can’t seem to find your smartphone on a daily basis.

It’s not unusual to misplace your car keys or reading glasses (which are on your head). And wasn’t your wallet on the kitchen counter a moment ago?

OK, so maybe you’ve had a lot on your mind, these days. After all, we’re still grappling with a global pandemic and not quite out of the woods yet.

The good news, however, is technology can help you find your stuff. From tiny trackers and handy apps to personal assistants that can lend a helping hand, today’s software and hardware might be all you need to locate everything from your car in a crowded mall parking lot to the TV remote stuck between sofa cushions.

And finally, there’s some help out there for finding your lost prescription eyeglasses when you’ve already confirmed they’re not on your head. The bad news: They’re currently sold out as of this writing and they only fit on frames with thick temple arms (think Ray-Ban Wayfarers).

Wouldn’t it be great if you could attach a teeny thingamajig to all your things? If you couldn’t find something, you simply could open an app or use your voice to see where it is.

While Apple just launched its own AirTags, the Tile family of trackers has been around for a few years and is best known. Attach the square Tile Mate ($19 each or $60 for a package of four) onto everyday items such as house keys, a purse, suitcase, briefcase, or wallet.

If you can’t find something, open the app and tap the name of the item, such as “Marc’s keys” or “Kellie’s purse.” The Tile will ring loudly up to 200 feet away and show you the item’s last known location on a map.

On the flip side, if you can’t find your phone, double-press an activated Tile Mate to make your lost phone ring — even if you’ve set it to silent.

Available in several colors, the Tile Pro models ($30 each, $60 for two, or $100 for a 4-pack) also use Bluetooth, are more durable and have a range of up to 400 feet.

The newest members of the family are Tile Sticker ($40 for 2 or $60 for a package of four), which are much smaller, waterproof, adhesive-backed trackers that work up to 150 feet — ideal to affix on the back of a TV remote – while Tile Slim ($25) is a thin credit card-shaped tracker to slip into luggage tags, wallets and other hidden spots. It works up to 200 feet away.

While your odds of finding lost stuff drops considerably if it’s outside the house – as the technology relies on Bluetooth — the network of Tile owners can be leveraged to help. Once an item is marked as lost, if any opt-in member spots the missing item, the owner can be automatically notified with its location.

Similar to Tile, Apple launched its circular AirTags last month ($29 for 1 or $99 for 4). Along with Bluetooth, Apple’s solution also utilizes UWB (ultra-wideband) technology to help find missing items, which operate on higher frequencies and offers better spatial and directional data, for “precision tracking. UWB is available on smartphones including iPhone 11, and iPhone 12. These tags also work with the Find My app, and support Siri voice activation.

As a downside, there is no direct way to attach Apple’s trackers to an item unless you pick up an accessory.

Other trackers, such as the Nutale Focus Smart Tracker ($20) and Samsung’s SmartTag tracker ($30), also use cellular connectivity to locate items outside the home. it’s only compatible with Samsung’s Galaxy phones running Android 8.0 or later.

For pets, you might opt for a GPS-based solution, such as the Findster Duo+ ($149), a real-time dog or cat tracker that shows your distance from your pet. In fact, you can add an invisible “geo-fence” around your home, so you’ll be notified immediately on your smartphone if your pets leave that space. There are no monthly fees.

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