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TechnologyTell Review: Life N Soul KiiTAG Bluetooth locator

Sections: Accessories, Communications, Gadgets / Other, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous, Mobile, Reviews

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Bluetooth trackers are still kind of new, but definitely very neat. Especially if you happen to be a person who tends to leave things here or there. Most trackers let you find your smartphone with the tracker itself, or find where the tracker is (it’s usually attached to something of importance) with the accompanying app. Those are the basic ones.

Some companies aren’t content with such simplicity, believing that these little devices can do more. Curious as to how the Life N Soul KiiTAG stands up to the test? Read on and find out!

Design & Connectivity

The Life N Soul KiiTAG shares a loose similarity to that of a house key. I mean, it’s kind of key-shaped. Definitely a little bit thicker – it could be easily mistaken for some new and fancy external flash drive. But it is made of lightweight plastic, so you’ll barely feel it. The device takes a standard CR2016 lithium battery, which inserts under the screw-secured battery cover in the back.

Life N Soul KiiTAG front

Clean front, the button is some trickery.

Despite the tight seams for the battery cover, there is no additional waterproofing against wayward splashes and/or rain. If you plan to travel with this device, keep the weather in mind.

As long as you’re not set out for destruction and crush-factor, the KiiTAG should hold up over time. How long is that time? Hard to say. The simple construction consists of two plastic halves glued together. That’s it. It would have been nice if the loop for a split ring was made little slimmer, but I guess it’s not too bad.

There is only a single button that lies flush with the exterior. Depending on the function you wish to invoke, it accepts single- and double-presses. But be warned – it can be a tricky, finicky beast.

Although the KiiTAG is a Bluetooth item locater, the app encourages that you keep your device’s GPS always on for the ‘last place seen’ feature. This can help you narrow down the area where the KiiTAG lost its Bluetooth connection. Definitely helpful for finding your lost gear.

KiiTAG App Features & Performance

The KiiTAG app is a quick download, so you can get started in no time. The account creation, necessary to add each KiiTAG, is in-app only. There doesn’t seem to be a website login to change or modify anything, but it doesn’t seem necessary either. Once you have Bluetooth enabled on your mobile device, pairing is almost instantaneous. Follow the instructions and you’ll be good to go.

Life N Soul KiiTAG splitring

Split rings slide on moderately easy

There isn’t much to do in terms of configuration. On the main landing screen you can choose to customize the KiiTAG icon by changing its color, renaming it, and/or adding a photo. The icon also shows a battery gauge as a 3-bar graphic. Who knows exactly how accurate it can be, but it’s better than nothing. The app has misreported the level a few times (showing one bar instead of three, as it should have been), but it self-corrected after a few minutes.

The standard options that come free with the app let you locate the KiiTAG, toggle the disconnect alarm, and check the last place seen. Additional features can be unlocked through in-app purchases. For $4 the KiiTAG can function as a camera shutter remote, for $5 the KiiTAG can auto-send SMS/email with a double-press, and for $1 the KiiTAG can help find your phone with a single button press. Not everyone will see the same value with each.

Ringing ($1 IAP) & Find It (free):

If you’ve ever used your car keys to lock/unlock/beep your car to find it in a packed parking lot (or a game of hot & cold), using the KiiTAG is pretty much the same thing for your smartphone or tablet. But it costs a buck to unlock. Single-pressing the button on the KiiTAG sends a signal out to ring your smartphone, so long as you’re within 5-7 meters (effective). So far I’ve gotten five meters when I’m far and walking toward my smartphone; seven meters when start at my smartphone location and walk away.

Life N Soul KiiTAG back

Battery goes in the back – there is no water seal.

The tone emitted from my Galaxy Note 4 (via the app) is that of a friendly doorbell-type chime, and it’s also accompanied by a push notification. Alternately, you can drop the KiiTAG or have it smack flat against something to do the same thing.

Sometimes a simple picking-up or putting-down of the KiiTAG will set it off – this button area is a little too sensitive to force. I’ve even held the KiiTAG right below the blue LED and had the sound and push notification trigger. Even a simple slide across a table is enough to make it go. Multiple activations, accidental or not, can and will happen. It can get a little tedious, especially if the auto message sender is also on and active. Because then you’ll get both going off.

The delay from pressing the button area to the time when your connected device rings is mostly consistent. Although it usually happens within a second or two, there have been instances when I’ve experienced a 20-second delay. Either way, it usually just takes a light touch to have it work. But once in awhile a light or even a firm press doesn’t do a thing. Considering all the instances where the KiiTAG has felt too sensitive, it’s a little off putting.

If your connected mobile device happens to have the volume on low or mute, the KiiTAG isn’t going to be much of any help. The app doesn’t override system volume settings for this kind of situation.

Life N Soul KiiTAG  app

App home, with all features enabled

Within the KiiTAG app is the ‘find it’ function, which pulls up a signal strength indicator. These concentric circles fluctuate with respect to a mobile device’s distance from the KiiTAG. It’s like playing hot and cold, as there is no directional information. The indicator will mostly only show the two innermost blue rings until you’re within (roughly) 3 meters of the KiiTAG. So if you’re trying to find where someone hid the KiiTAG in a house, good luck. You’ll have to be within half a meter for any additional rings to light up.

Each ring doesn’t represent any unit of distance, at least that I can tell. And I tried to quantify it. The signal can and will fluctuate, even if both the connected device and the KiiTAG are resting, unmoved. Once you’re close enough to the KiiTAG, which can be anywhere between 5 and 22 centimeters, your device will ring success and send a push notification that you’ve found it. I’ve usually found the hidden KiiTAG (made up the game “hide the KiiTAG” with the kids for the purpose of testing) by sight before my smartphone sang its song.

I don’t know why the KiiTAG doesn’t have a simple, tiny speaker to emit a sound upon command. When you’ve lost your keys and need them so you won’t be late for work, you’re not going to be interested in a dumb game of hot/cold. Especially when the device is large enough to have such circuitry.

Auto Message Sender ($5 IAP):

This is kind of an interesting feature to have included in a location tracker. The idea is that you can set up a message to have automatically sent out to emails and/or phone numbers (SMS). You can opt to have a Google Maps GPS location included as well. In an emergency, a double-press of the KiiTAG button puts it in motion. Although emails are free, SMS messages cost a dime a pop. You can opt to buy 10 more uses at a time for $1.

Life N Soul KiiTAG  app locator

The ‘hot and cold’ game

But the problem with this, especially if you’re opting to pay for texts, is that the auto message sender can go off when the find it function does. Remember that sensitivity? Sometimes an intended single press goes double, and all of a sudden you have twice the push notifications and system noises, and maybe some explaining to do for the unintended messages being sent out.

The five free SMS uses I had with my KiiTAG were used up instantaneously after I accidentally dropped it on the floor. Definitely a LOL moment, when you think how all the knocking around created multiple triggers and a cluster of ringing alarms. But at least it works quickly. Upon a successful double-press, the connected mobile device gets a push notification saying “successful requested”, and emails inboxes have a new message within 8-15 seconds.

There is no switch to turn this feature on or off. The only way to prevent it from activating (fully) is by removing all the receiver contact information. But then it sort of defeats the purpose of activating during a real emergency. And you’ll still get a push notification saying “request to send message is failed.”

Phone Finder / Last Place Seen (free):

This feature works as intended. The ‘phone finder’ toggles the GPS tracking on and off. The ‘last place seen’ shows a zoomed-in area of Google Maps that also includes a date and time stamp. The information is quick and accurate. Just keep in mind that this pinpoints the last location that the smartphone was still connected to the KiiTAG. It won’t bring you to the KiiTAG itself. But considering the semi-short Bluetooth range of the KiiTAG, it’s certainly useful at narrowing down the search area.

Disconnect Alarm (free):

Simple. All it does is toggle the out-of-range alarm for the KiiTAG. It’s very useful to turn this off when you’re at home or anywhere with little threat of lost items. Turn the alarm off when you want Bluetooth on for other devices (like speakers) and don’t want to hear perpetual, yet friendly, range warnings.

I’ve been receiving disconnect notifications once my Galaxy Note 4 and KiiTAG have separated by 10 meters max, which is only 37 feet. And this is my backyard with nothing in the way – no walls, people, or wireless interference (all that stuff is in the house). It’s not too bad. I don’t think I’d want whatever is attached to the KiiTAG to go further than that before notifying me.

But if the disconnect notification happens around 10 meters, and if the ringing feature to find my smartphone happens around 7 meters, and if I have to be within 3 meters before the app starts showing me more ‘you’re getting closer’ rings to find the KiiTAG, then the listed 200-foot tracking range is very misleading. Because I don’t know what that is supposed to apply to.

Camera Remote ($4 IAP):

This is another interesting feature to bundle with a wireless locator product. Maybe you don’t want to have a selfie stick to capture yourself in photos. However, the KiiTAG as a camera remote doesn’t actually work with the stock camera app in smartphones or tablets. It’s only compatible with the KiiTAG app, which makes it very limiting.

By default, the camera ability within the app starts off in ‘selfie mode’ with the front-facing camera. You can switch it to the rear-facing camera. The only other options (with the rear-facing) are setting the flash to auto/on/off. There are no other features – you can’t even press the screen to focus on a particular element, so it’s straight shooting at its best. Single-pressing the KiiTAG activates the shutter without triggering the device’s ‘find it’ or ‘auto message sender’ functions. This comes as a surprise, considering everything else.

Verdict

At best, the Life N Soul KiiTAG is just OK. I find this to be a classic case of imagination/vision greatly exceeding execution, with an added touch of hastiness. I really love the idea of a multi-function Bluetooth item tracker/locator – it totally makes gadget sense. However, the KiiTAG feels like it skipped any beta/consumer testing before hitting the production line. I think that feedback could have helped this device be everything it desired to.

The only fully-reliable aspects of the KiiTAG are within the app: editing the KiiTAG name & color, and toggling the phone finder & disconnect alarm features. Everything else is kind of up in the air.

As for the physical design, the KiiTAG is unnecessarily big for what it does. It’s also not really designed with life on a keychain in mind. The button needs to be more of a button, defined and separate from the main body. Half of the problems with this tracker is related to being over-sensitive with bouts of zero triggering. The other half revolves around the meager range and sensitivity of the device. While it can be useful, it’s also not entirely practical.

But I will give props to Life N Soul for their creativity, even if the KiiTAG features don’t have the best performance. The camera shutter and auto message sender are cool ideas – they just needed to have more work. Although the KiiTAG isn’t a slam-dunk, the concept of a multi-function Bluetooth tracker is. I have high hopes for their next version, the Life N Soul KiiTAG 2, which looks very promising (especially since it appears to take a completely different approach)!

 

 

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