Published On: Thu, Jun 13th, 2019

Verizon now sells a $100 tracking device with one year of free service

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Verizon today launched sales of the $99.99 Verizon Smart Locator, a tiny device that can be kept with your keys, bag, or other possessions (or pets) that you never want to lose. Similar to the Samsung SmartThings Tracker that AT&T sells, Verizon’s new gadget uses a combination of Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi-based positioning (WPS), and LTE coverage “for pinpoint accuracy wherever your mobile network is present.”

Unlike a Tile, which requires you to be in Bluetooth range to find a missing item it’s attached to, Verizon says the Smart Locator will work even if you’re nowhere near it. (Tile also has a community-based feature that alerts you if another Tile owner should pass by your lost property.)

A companion Smart Locator Hub app for smartphones allows you to adjust the frequency of location pings — doing less of them will help preserve battery — and set up other options like geofencing (for a dog in your backyard, perhaps) or add up to 10 trusted contacts who will also be able to check where the Locator is if there’s a situation where you’re unable to.

The Smart Locator isn’t a full-on LTE device like your smartphone or smartwatch. Instead, it uses LTE-M technology and requires less bandwidth on Verizon’s network. The carrier says it will maintain signal and be able to report its location in all areas with Verizon LTE coverage — but you’ll be out of luck if the Locator winds up in roaming territory, and it’ll do you no good internationally. (Presumably the Bluetooth functionality still works in these cases, at least.)

The Tile Pro tracker, by contrast, has a range limit of 300 feet. But it’s also a fraction of the cost at $30 and doesn’t require a recurring service plan. Verizon will give you a free year of tracking with the Smart Locator, but after that you’ll have to pay $3 per month. (AT&T charges $5 monthly for its SmartThings Tracker, but it, too, gives buyers a free year.)

Apple is rumored to be working on a Tile-like tracking device that will integrate with the company’s Find My app, which can already pinpoint where you left your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. As of iOS 13, the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps are being combined into one. Code in the first beta of Apple’s upcoming iOS update referenced an unreleased “Tag” product that is likely to be the tracking gadget.

With carriers having been so careless with your own personal location data, the least they can do is help you find your stuff.

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