Here's how Apple's AirTag trackers compare to Tile, and why the company is so upset with Apple

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TILEAAPLTile Sticker and Apple AirTagTodd Haselton | CNBC

Apple‘s $29 AirTag lost-item tracker begins shipping on April 30. I walked through what it’s like last week, but I recently bought a similar tracker from Tile. Tile has been in the lost-item tracking business for several years, and now counts Apple as its closest competitor.

I took both devices for a test drive to show you how they differ and to help explain why Tile is so upset that Apple is moving in on its turf.

Tile trackers aren’t new. They’ve been around for years and have been leading the market. Owners seem to love them. They’re convenient because you can attach them to bags, keys or other items, and then see where they are on a map on your phone.

Like AirTag, Tile trackers don’t use GPS. Instead, they rely on a network of other Tile devices that communicate with each other over Bluetooth. So, the more Tile devices there are out there, the greater your chances that someone with a Tile passes by yours and alerts your phone of your lost item’s location. Tile has sold more than 35 million devices, not including products from more than 30 partners with its technology built-in, which make up its network that spans 195 countries.

Apple’s AirTag is similar, except it taps into not only other AirTags but also Apple’s existing network of iPhones and Macs, which is nearing a billion devices. That gives Apple an advantage over Tile from the get-go, since it has a bigger network at launch, even if lots of people don’t buy an AirTag.

Tile has a bunch of tracker sizes and shapes.Tile

Here are a few of the things I like about Tile that you don’t get with Apple AirTag:

There’s a button on it you can press to ring your phone, in case you can’t find it around the house.There are several sizes and shapes. I bought a $25 Tile Sticker that’s about the size of a quarter, a hair smaller than an AirTag. You can stick it to anything. AirTag requires a keychain or a separate holder.Speaking of sizes, Tile