Can you really find your car with Bluetooth tracking devices?
We tested out this use case in a totally unscientific manner in the greater Toronto area using two of the most popular devices – Tile Mate and TrackR Bravo. Both are very compact devices, with Trackr Bravo being the thinner of the two, and perhaps the most durable. The Trackr also features a replaceable battery which may make it cheaper than the Tile over time.
Both devices are really easy to configure on your smartphone with both connecting to the iPhones within seconds. We did find that the Trackr app does not like to connect devices that are uninstalled from another mobile device.
We first established our location on both apps. Trackr had some difficulty in the beginning, placing my tracking device on another continent, but on the second try it was able to locate the device correctly. Tile did not have any trouble locating the device.
Locating a “lost” car:
We parked the car and walked into the nearby Subway restaurant and sat by the window, where the test vehicle (black Mercedes) was partially visible at a distance of about 10 feet. Trackr Bravo failed to make a connection to the tracking device, while Tile Mate maintained its connection and ‘located’ the vehicle.
Both tracking devices are great for locating lost items in close range such as keys, wallets and bags. The potential of being able to find objects or people that are, say, across town is dependent on other users of the tracking devices having their phones powered up and sharing Bluetooth (i.e. crowd GPS). It does not appear that we have a large number of users of either device, with Trackr reporting about 2,000 users and Tile about 250 users in the test area. This means we miss out on some of the great potential of these low cost Bluetooth devices. This may change over time as more people start using these trackers. In the meantime, I wouldn’t place much hope on finding your car with either of these devices yet!
Of the two brands, I prefer the Tile Mate as it appears to have a stronger signal and stays connected over a slightly longer range when compared to the Trackr Bravo. Both are still excellent devices and you can’t go wrong with either if you loose keys often.