As my friends, family, and boyfriend would likely tell you if you asked, I'm bad about keeping track of things. I frequently lose my keys, my phone, my iPad, my wallet, and my bag — all within the small confines of my 400 sq ft studio. (I've got a lot of stuff, okay?)
As such, when I first heard about Bluetooth LE trackers like Tile, I was thrilled — but they all had fiddly bits and pieces that made my excitement wane. No way to replace the batteries. Tiny zones. I ended up resigning myself to the fact that the Tile was not, in fact, the droid I was looking for.
Chipolo, on the other hand, might just be the one.
Bitty little color finder
I learned about Chipolo at CES this year, and it delighted me in ways that Tile and other trackers simply hadn't. It's colorful and looks more like a sporty keychain than random technobob. It sports a replaceable watch battery. It has an auto-loss feature to alert you when you're accidentally leaving one of your items behind — and Quiet Zones to keep that feature from being annoying within your own house. And perhaps my favorite bit: if you've lost your iPhone but not your Chipolo, you can shake it and your iPhone will trill in return.
I've been testing a Chipolo on my bag and keys for a few weeks, and I absolutely love it, though there are a few minor kinks in the system that could be better. The thing is dead-simple to pair after downloading the companion app on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone; just drop it atop your smartphone screen and let it get to work.
After it's paired, your app displays the name of your Chipolo, a button for making it ring, its current range, temperature sensor, and whether or not you're in a Quiet Zone. The temperature sensor is one of those little extras on the Chipolo that make me smile: It's certainly not the most accurate temperature gauge you'll find on a gadget — not by a long shot — but it absolutely helps when figuring out if you left an item indoors or outdoors.
In the weeks I've had the Chipolo, it never failed to ring when I tapped the button, though depending on the range between the two items, it may take a few seconds for the Bluetooth command to execute. Likewise, a hard shake of the Chipolo rings my phone almost instantly. (I appreciate that it requires a decent amount of force exerted to ping the phone, as the feature could otherwise quickly become annoying on something like a set of keys.)
If there's one complaint to be made, it's that the 180-foot range sensor on the Chipolo doesn't always function like it should. If my keys and iPhone are on the bed, it shows full range; if my keys end up under the covers, that range signal decreases by two bubbles. In day-to-day use this wouldn't normally be a problem — save for the auto-loss feature: If you lose contact with the Chipolo completely, it starts to chirp. This happened to me a few times during my testing period until I installed a geofenced Quiet Zone over my apartment, which solved the problem; nevertheless, it's a disappointing quirk to an otherwise fantastic product.
If your Chipolo senses it's lost, either by carelessness or quirk, it goes into Lost mode, providing you with a GPS snapshot of where the device was when your phone last had contact with it. Not as good as real GPS, but a nice place to start looking. You can also enable SOS mode, which lets anyone else with the Chipolo app installed pick up on its signal and give you a GPS update for easier searching. Once your phone's within range, the Chipolo app automatically displays a "Chipolo connected" screen.
A worthy little gadget
Even with the auto-loss software bugs, I love being able to quickly find my keys or my phone around the house, and I'm tempted to get a few more Chipolos for other important things I don't want to lose — my bookbag, for one.
What about you folks? Do you have a Chipolo or other GPS locator device you adore, or do you prefer to find things the old-fashioned way? Let me know in the comments below.