There’s no shortage of Bluetooth trackers out on the market. These are small devices you can attach to your car keys, wallet, pets, etc. and then pair to an app on your smartphone so you can presumably find them when they’re lost or misplaced. I recently picked up three TrackR Bravos (one for my keys, one for my wife’s keys, and one for my daughter’s wallet) to see how they would work.
The Bravo is one of the smallest of the trackers out there, barely larger than then user-replaceable CR1620 battery that powers it. It’s metal, and comes with a ring for your keyring, and a small adhesive sticker if you’re going to mount it on something instead. A small blue LED also doubles as a button for pairing or finding your phone (more on that later). Set up is fairly straightforward: install the Trackr app on your phone, create an account, and step through the wizard for pairing the Trackr Bravo with your phone over Bluetooth.
Once paired, the Bravo “checks in” with the app when it’s in range. The app uses your phone’s GPS to mark the last-seen location. Even if your phone is out of range, Trackrs have a feature called “” that allows them to check in to other phones also running the app to update their location. I’m not sure yet how reliable this is as I haven’t really had a real-world need to test it (yet?).
A nice feature of the Trackr is that you can locate your Trackr with your phone and locate your phone with the Trackr. In the app, you can tap on your Trackr and it will start playing a sound through its small built-in speaker. The app shows you if you’re getting closer or farther as you walk around your house trying to hear the Trackr on your keyring beeping at you (and it’s not that loud, so good luck if my wife’s keys are buried in her purse). Likewise, if you hold down the tiny button on the Trackr, it will cause your phone to ring, even if it’s on silent (it sets the volume to max while it’s ringing and then puts the volume back to its previous setting when its done). This will only work, of course, if the two devices are within range of each other (supposedly ~100ft). And if that’s not enough, there’s also an Trackr skill for the Amazon Echo that lets you ask Alexa to find your phone which will cause the app to ring.
You can also configure separation alerts on each side. So your Trackr can beep if it gets too far away from your phone, and you can have your phone ring if it gets too far away from your Trackr. You can mark specific WiFi networks as “safe zones” so these separation alerts don’t trigger, for example, while you’re at home. You can customize the alert noise, but for some reason the app only lets you select songs from your music library and not the standard list of tones on your phone, which seems like an odd design choice. So far I’ve found these separation alerts to be problematic and unreliable, either not going off at all, or going off randomly for no apparent reason.
Trackr lets you set up sharing groups so you can let other Trackr users (i.e., family members) find your devices. In my family, my wife, myself, and my daughter all have the app installed on our phones, paired to our own single Trackr. Then we’ve added each others’ Trackrs to the app through sharing so, for example, my wife can find my daughter’s wallet from her phone.
Like I mentioned I haven’t had an actual loss yet where I would need Trackr to find the lost item. But so far in all of my tests, the results have been inconsistent. I’ll launch the app, and it’ll just keep looking for my keys and not actually locate them. Or I’ll press the button on the Trackr to ring my phone and it will just make a two-tone beep (I haven’t figured out what that means yet). Over Christmas I noticed my brother-in-law has a lot of Tiles, a competitor of Trackr. I didn’t really get a chance to discuss them with him to see how they fare against the Trackr, but I might have to depending on how my experience with the Bravos goes.