Did you know Tile sells Bluetooth trackers for your cat? Why don’t you just stick a small tracker on something cheap and attach it to your cat’s collar, you say? Well, that’s exactly what Tile did. At a time when Bluetooth-tracking companies should be rethinking their approach and reputation among shoppers, a Tile Sticker slapped on a cheap collar attachment feels like a wasted opportunity.
It took a surprisingly long time for Tile to release an official pet tracker, but Tile for Cats finally became available Wednesday for $40—$10 more than a Tile Sticker’s solo MSRP. Tile’s announcement describes the product as the simplistic solution it is. It merely “combines Tile Sticker with a silicone collar attachment.”
And that’s the first reason why Tile for Cats doesn’t feel like an exciting new product—and it doesn’t look like one either. If someone wanted something that looked like a DIY pet tracker, they’d probably make one. That device would also probably have something cuter written on it than “Tile,” like this GPS pet tracker on Hackaday that says “Squeak.”
Tile’s announcement called its cat tracker “comfortable,” “safe,” and “low-profile,” but the product’s bulkiness in shared images doesn’t scream cozy.
Still, Tile claims the product is designed to stay put “with dual attachment points and a special coating to prevent fur, dirt, and dust from sticking to it.”
But Tile for Cats doesn’t add exciting functionality that you can’t get from hacking together your own solution. Considering Tile’s last big product announcement was its 2022 lineup of trackers that included new features like ultra-wideband radio tech and longer battery life, Tile for Cats isn’t groundbreaking.
Missed opportunity to best AirTags
It would have been a great time for Tile to announce something to excite people about Bluetooth trackers. One reason is growing competition. AirTags are often used for pet tracking, despite Apple warning against the practice (dogs have eaten them, and some have died), and AirTags’ inability to support multiple Apple IDs makes them flawed for pets with multiple owners. That leaves pretty big gaps for Tile to fill, but it missed the mark.
Tile nearly hit the mark by offering Life360 subscribers the ability to link Tile for Cat’s Tile Sticker, so people in their “Circle” of family and friends can see it, but that requires spending additional money on a Life360 subscription with features that someone may not need.
Plus, Tile for Cats only targets, you guessed it, cats, which tend to play spontaneous rounds of hide-and-seek. The Tile Sticker has its regular 250-foot max range, which is wider than AirTags (around 33 feet). But when you’re not in range of an AirTag you’re seeking, AirTags can tap Apple’s humongous Find My network, giving it far greater reach, which is critical when tracking something with multiple legs. Tile still recommends its Tile Mate as a tracker for non-feline pets, though the device is also intended for general Bluetooth tracking. We’ve reached out to Life360 about asking if it considers Tile for Cats an effective solution for dogs and will update this piece if we hear back.
Meanwhile, Chipolo, which started selling trackers in 2013, has been open to teaming up with Apple to integrate Apple’s Find My into Chipolo’s product.
“It just comes down to, do you want the customer to be happier with the bigger network?… We decided this is better,” Chipolo co-founder Domen Barovic told TechCrunch earlier this year. He added that it’s easier to replace Chipolo’s original finding network “than to try to build a huge network,” which is “really hard to do.”
We’re not saying Tile should partner with Apple necessarily. Considering the companies’ combative history, that may be rather… uncomfortable. However, Tile should develop something because even smaller players are finding ways to expand their trackers’ networks. Even more pressing, there are hints of Google-brand Bluetooth trackers, which could leverage a huge network of Android-based devices, arriving soon.