Tile doesn’t want people to forget about it, especially if Apple debuts its own item tracker. Today, Tile announced a minor update to its Google Assistant integration that’ll allow Assistant to directly ring a Tile. The functionality isn’t launching until later this year, but clearly, Tile wants to get its news out ahead of Apple. Before, Tile just had a Google Assistant skill, which required users to say, “Hey Google, ask Tile to find my phone.” Later this year, they can just say, “Hey Google, find my phone,” and the Tile attached to their phone will ring.
The update is minimal and helpful, although the bigger story seems to be that Tile is trying to keep its name in the broader tech news ahead of Apple’s upcoming hardware event. Apple’s expected to announce its own Bluetooth tracker that’ll sync with the new Find My app that’s launching with iOS 13. iPhone owners will reportedly be able to set a specific sound to go off if they leave their tagged items behind. The company will also potentially use augmented reality to help people find their item in a room.
While the idea that Apple could introduce a Tile competitor is likely worrying enough for the company, there’s a possibility the Apple trackers could be more accurate at locating items. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects Apple to implement ultra-wideband technology in the trackers, which might be more precise than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi. Tile relies on a mesh network made out of Tile-tagged devices to help figure out where items are located. If Apple wanted to do the same, it could rely on the millions of iPhones already in use, which would give it a huge leg up on Tile. Poor Tile.