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FiLIP review: This wearable lets you track your kids and text their wrists

Susie Ochs | May 30, 2014
As a locator it works well. But the cell phone features fall flat

At any time, parents can use the app to email someone else the watch's exact location via SMS or email. It also attaches the child's name, height and weight if you've entered those, and a photo. It's a nice feature in case you need to send someone to pick up your child who doesn't have the FiLIP app installed on their phone.

Hello? What?
Up to five approved numbers can call the watch, either through the FiLIP app or just by dialing the watch's phone number. The ringtone on the watch itself is awful--it sounds like a fire drill alarm. The same sound blares out when the FiLIP receives a text. Texts can only be sent from the app to the watch, with a 16-character limit, and the watch can't reply, except to call back.

A child can press the red button on the FiLIP to answer a call, but while the shrill ringtone is loud and clear, the audio coming out of the watch is weak. I had trouble hearing the caller, and she had trouble hearing me. Usually I'd start hollering into the watch, and she'd only hear the last half of my sentences. I wanted to turn the volume up on the watch to hear better, but it doesn't have a volume control at all.

FiLIP isn't really meant for long conversations, and it could work for quick "Pick me up!" or "What's wrong?" check-ins as long as the surroundings aren't too noisy. The fact that it has that two-way vocal communication is supposed to be a selling point over GPS-only trackers like the HereO and I'm Tracer, but in practice, FiLIP's cellular communication just adds extra bulk to the watch without being all that useful. Even with the short character limit, the ability to send texts to the watch is a nice touch. Sometimes "Come home," "Call mom" or "I'm out front" is all you need to say.

The car alarm factor
The first time I let the battery die, all hell broke loose. The FiLIP went into emergency mode, and called my number repeatedly, along with my husband's and the other pre-programmed numbers. It left me 8 voicemails saying there was an emergency--which is exactly what you'd want in an emergency, but this wasn't actually an emergency. I tried to cancel the emergency mode from the app, but it just kept calling me. Finally, I tried to turn the watch off from within the FiLIP app, but that didn't take effect right away, probably because the watch was in still emergency mode.

This was a letdown, but it also seemed too glitchy to be true. The next time I let the FiLIP's battery run all the way down, the watch just blinked off without sending the "low battery" push notification to my phone. Pressing the watch's buttons did nothing, and I wasn't able to get calls or texts to the watch to go through. The FiLIP's last known location in the app was still accurate, but my communication was cut off, and since the app didn't tell me the battery was dead (it kept insisting the battery was only mostly dead), I had no idea why.

 

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