iPhone Case Review: BiKN - The New Lost And Found for iPhone 4/4S Review
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Allows you to page tagged items. Allows you to find tagged items. Allows you to leash tagged items. Tags can be used to remotely page the case. It works even when the phone is off.
What's Not: App cannot silence itself when paged by a tag. App does not support multitasking. The pairing process can be hit or miss. App need some work.
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
BiKN for iPhone is a lost and found system for your iPhone 4/4S that consists of a case, tags, and software. Once the case and tags are charged and the app is installed, it can be used to keep track of easily lost items such as a purse, a set of keys, or even children and pets.
Size and Fit
The BiKN case consists of two pieces; the first is a thin, lightweight shell that snaps on in seconds. This portion of the case can be used by itself when the piece containing the electronics and battery are charging. This second component slides into the case, and attaches itself to your iPhone's docking port to allow it to communicate with the associated app. When fully installed, the complete case is surprising slim and light due to the internal battery being only large enough to power itself (it will NOT charge your iPhone). It allows full access to everything on your phone but the docking port, although your phone can be charged and synced via the included mini-USB cable.
Features and Quality
The system includes the case and two tags, which are managed by the proprietary app that is available for free on the App Store. After charging them, simply install the case onto your phone. Doing so for the first time will bring up a dialog box asking you if you would like to install the needed app. Once this is done, and the app is launched, you will be given the opportunity to pair the included tags with the case. One of my tags paired instantly while the other one took a few tries. Installing the case/app on a completely different phone resulted in the same tag being instantly recognized and the same tag misbehaving. A few tries later, both tags were paired, and I was off and running.
The app itself is well-designed, and quite intuitive. You are given the chance to customize the icon associated with each tag, which includes replacing a generic (but well-drawn) graphic with a photo of your choosing. Although two tags are included, another six (for a total of eight) can be paired with the BiKN case. Managing the tags is as simple as tapping their icons and then selecting the desired function. Three are available. First, you can page the tags, which will trigger a high-pitched beeping from them. Second, you can locate them, which will cause the tag to beep, and will launch a screen that can be used to tell you when you are getting closer to the tag and when you are moving away. This works surprisingly well, and can prevent that misplaced or dropped set of keys from becoming permanently lost. The last feature, called leashing, is probably their most innovative and useful. When you leash a tag (or tags) you first set the distance of the leash. This is an arbitrary distance rather than an absolute range, but a little experimentation will give you a pretty good idea of what will work best in any given situation. It works like this: Any tagged object, such as a child or a pet, can move freely within the designated area. However, if that tags attempts to stray beyond the range of the leash, the case will immediately start beeping. Any parent of small children can tell you how incredibly useful this would be in a public setting such as a park or the mall.
Additionally, if the tagged child presses the button on the tag, it will also cause the phone case to beep, alerting the owner that their child is looking for them. The only problem with this is it doesn't take the nature of children into account. You see, when I put a tag around the neck of my boys, they immediately started pressing the button, which caused a near constant stream of high-pitched beeps to emanate from my phone. This sound can only be silenced by again pressing the button on the offending tag or by removing the case from your phone and pitching it in a lake. Hopefully, there will be a fix coming that allows you to silence the case from within the app because this particular design decision turns the leasher into the leashee, and almost guarantees that you will be sprinting after your child as he repeatedly pages YOU.
Lastly, once the case and tag modes are set, you can quit the app and the case will still communicate with the tags. However, the app itself does not support multitasking, and must be launched from scratch every time. As it takes anywhere from 10-30 seconds to load, this can be a bit nerve-racking if the case is beeping and you need to know who is paging you.
As this case is designed for function rather than style, don't expect a lot of bling. However, it is slim and professional looking, and is available in a variety of colors including black, green, white, grey, and teal.
The BiKN for iPhone Lost and Found system fills a niche that has long gone unfilled. If you are prone to losing things, this case is for you. If you have children or pets that tend to wander off or like to play in large public places, this case is also for you. It's this last feature that really makes the system worth the price of admission as it will bring a considerable amount of peace of mind to parents who need this feature. The software could use some fine-tuning, however, and the pairing process can be a bit frustrating. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in future updates as the hardware is sound and works as advertised.