Back in 2021 Tile announced a new range of Bluetooth trackers and some extra features in its app. One of these was Scan & Secure, Tile’s answer to Apple’s anti-stalking feature which allowed anyone to use the Tile app to scan for a tracker even if they don’t have an account.
The only trouble is, such features can be used by thieves to quickly locate a tracker attached to a valuable and remove it. And that renders the devices rather useless if your intention was to use them to locate your laptop, bike or something else if it were ever stolen.
Now, though, Tile is rolling out a new Anti-Theft feature which will make any Tile device “invisible” when Scan & Secure is used by someone else. The company says it works with all Tile models and those from third-parties as well.
It’s free to use: it isn’t locked behind a Tile Premium subscription. The only requirement is that you must be over 18.
Obviously, this does raise questions about whether someone could then use the mode to stalk someone, but Tile has put a set of measures in place to try and stop that happening.
In order to enable Anti-Theft, you’ll need to take a selfie and a photo of an ID card such as a passport, as well as letting Tile store your name and date of birth. This means that if you were to misuse the feature, you’d be liable to prosecution and authorities would know the tracker belonged to you.
You also have to tick a box that says “I agree to pay a $1m damages payment if I am convicted in a court of law for using my Tile devices to illegally track any individual without their consent”.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Tile also says it’s using “a biometric scan” to detect fake IDs so the system can’t be gamed.
One interesting restriction is that, once enabled, Anti-Theft cannot later be disabled for that Tile. And, naturally, it means that tile cannot be discovered using Scan and Secure.
“Location sharing and finding have become a part of our daily fabric, and it’s not going anywhere. We develop products for the vast majority of people who use them as intended, and for those who do not, we are committed to cooperating fully with the police,” said Chris Hulls, CEO of Life360 (which now owns Tile).
“To meaningfully address stalking with technology, we must implement safeguards like ID registration of all location-enabled devices that are small enough to be planted on a person so police forces have information to pursue justice for victims. In the meantime, we’ll do what we can at the product level to keep people safe from the outlying cases of bad actors while increasing the likelihood of recovering stolen items with Tile to help people live more relaxed lives.”
The company is also keen to point out that Tile doesn’t notify nearby smartphone users when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is travelling with them.
Proactive notifications – the sort you get when you use an Apple AirTag – can tell thieves that a tracker is attached to the item they’ve stolen item. And some Bluetooth trackers beep when they’re too far from their owner, again making their presence obvious.
This means they’re all but useless for tracking valuables, and it’s a reason to pick Tile over an AirTag or another rival. And of course, Tiles work on Android and iPhones.