Never lose your keys (or phone) again with Chipolo

As my friends, family, and boyfriend would likely tell you if you asked, I'm bad about keeping track of things. I frequently lose my keys, my phone, my iPad, my wallet, and my bag — all within the small confines of my 400 sq ft studio. (I've got a lot of stuff, okay?)

As such, when I first heard about Bluetooth LE trackers like Tile, I was thrilled — but they all had fiddly bits and pieces that made my excitement wane. No way to replace the batteries. Tiny zones. I ended up resigning myself to the fact that the Tile was not, in fact, the droid I was looking for.

Chipolo, on the other hand, might just be the one.

Bitty little color finder

I learned about Chipolo at CES this year, and it delighted me in ways that Tile and other trackers simply hadn't. It's colorful and looks more like a sporty keychain than random technobob. It sports a replaceable watch battery. It has an auto-loss feature to alert you when you're accidentally leaving one of your items behind — and Quiet Zones to keep that feature from being annoying within your own house. And perhaps my favorite bit: if you've lost your iPhone but not your Chipolo, you can shake it and your iPhone will trill in return.

I've been testing a Chipolo on my bag and keys for a few weeks, and I absolutely love it, though there are a few minor kinks in the system that could be better. The thing is dead-simple to pair after downloading the companion app on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone; just drop it atop your smartphone screen and let it get to work.

After it's paired, your app displays the name of your Chipolo, a button for making it ring, its current range, temperature sensor, and whether or not you're in a Quiet Zone. The temperature sensor is one of those little extras on the Chipolo that make me smile: It's certainly not the most accurate temperature gauge you'll find on a gadget — not by a long shot — but it absolutely helps when figuring out if you left an item indoors or outdoors.

In the weeks I've had the Chipolo, it never failed to ring when I tapped the button, though depending on the range between the two items, it may take a few seconds for the Bluetooth command to execute. Likewise, a hard shake of the Chipolo rings my phone almost instantly. (I appreciate that it requires a decent amount of force exerted to ping the phone, as the feature could otherwise quickly become annoying on something like a set of keys.)

If there's one complaint to be made, it's that the 180-foot range sensor on the Chipolo doesn't always function like it should. If my keys and iPhone are on the bed, it shows full range; if my keys end up under the covers, that range signal decreases by two bubbles. In day-to-day use this wouldn't normally be a problem — save for the auto-loss feature: If you lose contact with the Chipolo completely, it starts to chirp. This happened to me a few times during my testing period until I installed a geofenced Quiet Zone over my apartment, which solved the problem; nevertheless, it's a disappointing quirk to an otherwise fantastic product.

If your Chipolo senses it's lost, either by carelessness or quirk, it goes into Lost mode, providing you with a GPS snapshot of where the device was when your phone last had contact with it. Not as good as real GPS, but a nice place to start looking. You can also enable SOS mode, which lets anyone else with the Chipolo app installed pick up on its signal and give you a GPS update for easier searching. Once your phone's within range, the Chipolo app automatically displays a "Chipolo connected" screen.

A worthy little gadget

Even with the auto-loss software bugs, I love being able to quickly find my keys or my phone around the house, and I'm tempted to get a few more Chipolos for other important things I don't want to lose — my bookbag, for one.

What about you folks? Do you have a Chipolo or other GPS locator device you adore, or do you prefer to find things the old-fashioned way? Let me know in the comments below.

• Chipolo - $29 - Buy Now

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.