Today’s lost item tracker and AirTag Tile competitor introduces its first anti-stalking security feature called “Scan and Secure”. The technology was first announced in October with a promised arrival date sometime in early 2022. Using the Tile mobile app, users will now be able to search for unknown Tiles or Tiles that may be traveling with them. The company points out that users don’t have to be Tile owners or part of the Tile search network in order to take advantage of the new technology — it’s available to anyone across both iOS and Android.
To use Scan and Secure, users will need to use the latest version of the Tile app. They will also need Bluetooth, location or location services, and the exact location set to On on their mobile device. Tile says that users will be asked within the mobile app if they need to change these or any other permission settings for the feature to work.
After the update, new users will be able to tap the new scan icon in the upper right corner of the app’s login screen to access the feature. Existing users can also access Scan and Secure via the app’s settings.
The scanning process does not provide an accurate search tool that allows people to locate a Tile device near them. Instead, Tile indicates that users will have to walk or even drive a certain distance away from their original location to work. Tile says a full scan can take up to 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to complete and provide the most accurate results. It won’t work if you’re walking around your house or a crowded place, like on public transportation, where he can detect other tiles nearby.
The results of the scan will be displayed in the app when completed, which Tile advises users to save for presentation to law enforcement. The company notes that users may want to run multiple scans to eliminate the possibility of devices that briefly passed the scans against devices they were already traveling with. It is also suggested that images be used in the scan to try to locate the devices by their shape. Unfortunately, without accurate search capabilities, some users will likely have difficulty locating well-hidden devices.
The company says it will work with law enforcement through court orders to identify the owners of devices that have been used in criminal activities, such as stalking.
Tile’s Scan and Secure feature is not as comprehensive as the suite of tools available from Apple for AirTag safety. After many stories about AirTags being used for stalking — and even car theft — Apple updated AirTags and Find My Network with improved warnings and alerts. Those warnings included a warning to potential stalkers that Apple could identify them and share that data with law enforcement, as well as more detailed proactive alerts to potential stalking victims. Apple said it will allow users to locate AirTags with them using accurate search capabilities, louder alerts through subsequent updates, update its documentation, and will allow devices with speakers to be disabled.
Scan and Secure is rolling out to users of the Tile mobile app gradually over the next two weeks but will be accessible to everyone on iOS and Android, with or without a Tile account.
The company indicated that it had consulted with safety experts about the new functionality, who advised that allowing users to initiate the scan themselves would be a useful feature — particularly because nearly 70% of stalking victims know their abuser. Many of them are partners of their victim.
“If someone is a victim of domestic violence and is preparing to leave their partner, for example, it is helpful to be able to choose the safest time and place for them to proactively check if there is a device that can track their partner’s departure, said Erica Olsen, director of the National Safety Net Ending Project Domestic violence: “Putting control into their own hands is an important part of increasing safety,” she said.
Privacy concerns unrelated to stalking issues have plagued Tile in recent months, after reports indicated that Tile’s new parent company, Life360, had been selling customer data to a location broker. After investigation, Life360 said it would end the practice.
Tile said it will continue to work with experts and other advocacy groups to develop its own safety features over time.