There are hundreds of tracking apps and devices claiming to help you find your stuff. Here are the good ones.
To say the mobile GPS and Bluetooth tracking industry is volatile would be an extreme understatement. A simple online search of such devices yields tens — if not hundreds — of results. The problem, however, is that many of these devices and apps were short-lived or never met their crowd-sourcing goals.
For example, one startup pitched rechargeable and trackable AA and AAA batteries, which would allow you to keep tabs on any battery-powered device — things like your TV remote control, battery-powered headphones, and the like.
The startup met its goal on Indiegogo in May 2015, but the product never launched. In fact, its Indiegogo account hasn't been updated since February 2016. Understandably, supporters are not happy.
But not every tracking story has a frustrating ending. There are still a handful of devices and associated iPhone apps that can be monumentally useful when you want to track down a lost item. Here are five of the best.
Tile is one of the leaders in the mobile tracker industry, largely because of the reliability of its devices. Its tiny square trackers (which start at $24) easily attach to keys, wallets, luggage, or remote controls, and you can quickly find any of these items using the iOS app.
One of the best things about Tile as a company is that it provides regular app updates. The current version has a perfect 5-star rating on the App Store; with nearly 6000 reviews, all versions have averaged an impressive 4 stars.
The Findster Duo is a GPS tracker with no extra data fees that emphasizes tracking your pets' location. Once you attach the device to your pet's collar, you can follow it in real time using the Findster Duo iOS app.
The $99 Findster Duo is currently available for preorder, and orders are expected to ship in July of this year.
One of Findster Duo's best features is the ability to set up custom geolocation fences. If your pet leaves your defined area, you'll immediately receive an alert.
The device and companion app even allow you to track more than one pet at once; the app also keeps track of your pet's activity levels such as distance walked, time spent resting, steps taken, and calories burned.
Created by PhoneHalo, the TrackR app and its associated Bluetooth trackers are an alternate option for keeping track of your wallet, keys, and phone.
One of the best things about TrackR is it has a variety of tools and services available based on your needs. For example, the $29.99 TrackR Bravo is a somewhat standard, quarter-sized device that you can use to track items such as keys or luggage. Earlier this year, the company announced the TrackR Pixel, a smaller and less expensive version of the Bravo device.
The company has also announced the TrackR Wallet 2.0, a device designed specifically for wallets. It's shaped like a credit card and is only 2mm thick, making for easy storage in your wallet.
Further, there is a TrackR "Find My Phone" skill for Amazon Alexa. If you have an Echo, Tap, Dot, Look, or Show, you can activate the device using your voice.
The FollowMee website and app might not have the refined look of some of their better-known competitors, but what they lack in style, they more than make up for in substance.
Rather than using small Bluetooth-enabled devices to track your things, FollowMee aims to provide a way you to track all your cross-platform phones, tablets, and the like. Think Find My iPhone but for all devices, whether they be iPhones, iPads, Android phones, tablets, Windows phones, Blackberry phones, or Amazon Kindle Fire devices.
The free version of the app lets you track devices from a web browser on your computer or phone — also handy if you need to keep track of kids when they're out and about. A deluxe version of the app allows you to track your car (or if you run a business, fleet of cars), in case you need to keep tabs on your mileage.
The app allows you to track devices in real time using GPS the same way hospitals use similar technology to track things such as equipment, patients, and personnel.
The last of the big three names in Bluetooth-connected tracking, Chipolo is yet another tiny device you can attach to just about anything you'd like. What makes the $25 device different from Tile and TrackR is its alert volume and multicolored tracker styles.
When connected, you can use the Chipolo app on your phone to trigger the device, which then plays a very audible 100-decibel melody to help you find your item. You can also double-press the tiny device to make your phone ring, even if it's on silent.
For items that you may have lost some time ago, the app remembers where your phone last connected to your Chipolo tracker and then visualizes it for you on a map.