Tile looks set to become a better AirTag rival - but only in the US

(Image credit: Tile)

Tile, the AirTag rival, looks set to become a more efficient key finder after Amazon revealed the brand was joining its Sidewalk program, which will extend the range of a Tile, making it easier to locate those connected to personal possessions you have misplaced. 

Sidewalk is a networking service designed to improve the range of smart home devices such as the best home security cameras and smart speakers

Built into newer Echo smart speakers and Ring home security cameras, it uses the 900MHz band (which was previously reserved for amateur radio transmissions) to deliver low bandwidth and long-distance connectivity, and has a range of between 500 metres to one mile. 

This means that Sidewalk-enabled devices in other homes with that radius can be used as part of the network, and because it’s based on mesh technology, the more devices that support Sidewalk within an area, the stronger the network becomes. So if your Wi-Fi was to go down or become weak, your smart home gadgets would still be able to function, for example you’d still be able to view a live feed from your home security camera. 

Easier to find

Tile currently integrates with Amazon Alexa, but because it uses a skill finding your keys, or any other item a Tile is connected to, the process is pretty drawn out. 

If you ask “Alexa, Find my Keys”, you’ll be prompted to install the Tile skill (if it’s not already installed), then you'll be asked to confirm you want to open the skill. After that, you can select which Tile you want to ring, but it still requires your phone to be within Bluetooth range of a Tile for it to make a sound.

However, the Sidewalk partnership, which begins on June 14, will mean you can simply “Alexa, Find My keys” and your Tile will start ringing even if it’s not within Bluetooth range of your phone. Amazon hasn’t made it clear whether all compatible Sidewalk devices will be able to locate a Tile, or whether it will be restricted to just the ones in your home. 

On top of that, Amazon said in an announcement about the service Alexa will be able to tell you which Echo device in your home the Tile is closest to, as well as the day and time it was last seen near that device.

The hope would be that the partnership will improve how long it takes to find a Tile when it’s been misplaced away from your home. 

Both AirTags and Tiles have a community of users (those with a recently-updated iPhone in the case of the former or the Tile app for the latter) that can anonymously update your key finder’s location if they happen to pass by it - making it far easier to find when it really has been lost rather than misplaced. 

Currently Apple has a potential user base of 1.65 billion, while Tile has 36 million users, and when testing this feature out, our AirTag was found within 30 minutes, but it took a whole day to locate a missing Tile. 

The tie-in with Sidewalk will aim to improve this, making Tile more of a rival to AirTags. However, Amazon Sidewalk is only available in the US, so Tile owners in other territories will miss out. 

Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.