We’ve got technology that can track our keys, our phone, and the environment of our home, but what about man’s best friend? The last thing that any of us want to experience is that feeling you get in your chest when you realize that your little buddy is missing. Fortunately, this situation can be avoided.
The Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker is a brand-new piece of smart tech that promises to help you keep digital tabs on your pets at all times. Whether you’re trying to keep them safe or just looking for a way to find out what goes on beyond the walls of your house, the Whistle can help you do that.
We’ll be going in depth to find out exactly what the limitations of the Whistle 3 are, and help you determine if this will be the next addition to your furry friend’s collar.
The Whistle 3 is the latest version of the bestselling pet tracker. Despite the hefty updates found inside, they’ve remained considerably Spartan with the design. The product itself looks like nothing more than a small grey box, with a small pinhole in the front accompanied by a pictogram of a whistle. But behind the scenes, there is a lot going on. Both your pet’s activity levels can be tracked just like a fitbit, and GPS data is transmitted over the cellular network to your mobile phone.
Design & Durability
It’s unlikely that any of us would want to strap our phones to our pet’s collar. Not only would they be way to large, but our pets would probably find a way to ruin them in a matter of hours. Fortunately, the Whistle 3 isn’t your ordinary piece of tech. Measuring about 1.82” by 1.45”, this half inch thick rectangle can comfortably attach to any 1” collar without annoying our pets.
It’s IP67 rated, a score that measures it’s durability. This means that it can withstand being fully submerged in water for extended periods of time. It’s also completely sealed, so even in the dirtiest environments the internal components will remain in excellent condition.
By releasing a small clip on the side, you’ll reveal a five-pin connector protected internally. At any time, you can plug this into your computer to gather data. This is a non-standard connector, but it’s necessary to provide the level of durability required. There is a compact docking station included in the box, converting this connector into a USB port so that it can be synced with virtually any computer on the market.
You’ll generally be accessing all of your data from the free Whistle application. It’s fully compatible with iOS 9.0 or later, or Android 5.0 or later. In essence, any phone made in the last 4 years should have no problem connecting to it. The data collected is sent over the 2G cellular network. Although this technology is a little older, the amount of data being sent is highly compressed. This means that it doesn’t require the high bandwidth possible with newer cellular standards, and the reception tends to be better even in rural areas. Since you’re never going to want to lose connectivity with this device, the fact that they’re using 2G is important.
You do, however, need to subscribe to the $6.95 per month subscription plan if you’d like to use this feature. Fortunately, the data is unlimited.
While using the cellular network, the amount of data transmitted is reduced. This means that there is roughly 30 second delay between transmissions. But the Whistle 3 can also connect over WiFi, and the first time you perform the configuration it will establish a WiFi direct connection with your phone. This means that if you’re out looking for your dog, the moment you get close enough for the time delay to matter it will switch to this. At this point, the connection will be instantly updated, so you can call your pet and see how they react.
Ease of Use
One of the things we liked the most about the Whistle 3 was just how easy it was to use. When you first pull it out of the box, you’ll want to give it a charge on the included charger. It comes with enough juice to start up immediately, but it’s a good idea to make sure it’s completely full. The battery lasts about 10 days, and you’re given a notification when it starts to get low. But knowing that it’s full will allow you to make a mental note of when it needs to be charged next.
You’ll then want to download the free application and begin the setup procedure. You’re first asked to make an account, and enter some information about the device you received. It will then search for it, and make a new connection within a matter of minutes. This is where it starts to get fun. You’ll want to set your pets “home” area, and you can also select a larger area to mark as safe. There are a number of notification settings, which we’ll get into shortly. You can also set fitness targets, and decide if you want to be notified as those. Finally, you wrap it up by entering your pets name.
Once everything is set up, accessing all of the information is as simple as opening up the application. There are two separate screens. Once is for location, the other for health. The location app uses the google Maps API, which is conveniently set up to show the shapes of buildings in most areas. This makes it easy to figure out if your pet is off hiding somewhere. You can also view historical data, showing their path at all times.
The health screen looks very much like Samsung’s S Health application on Android. Essentially, it’s a large graph that breaks the day up into 30 minute chunks. Above each chunk will be a bar, showing the total number of minutes of activity they got out of those 30 minutes. The end result is a large graph that gives you a pretty accurate indicator how active your pets were.
Since the main selling point of this device is the security, being able to get real time notifications when your pets leave a designated area is vital. We recommend setting the safe zone relatively small. This way, if they start to leave the area, you can always call them back over.
When you do tap on a notification, you’re immediately taken to the GPS screen. It will show their current whereabouts and the time they left the safe zone, so you’ll have a good idea which direction they’ve headed.
Notifications can be delivered through push from the included app, but you can set other alerts as well. By entering a mobile number or an email address, you can easily notify people who don’t have the app installed. If you’re getting a pet sitter while you’re away, keeping them in the loop is a simple matter of opening the app, entering a single piece of information, and clicking “apply”. It really couldn’t be easier!
Many real-time GPS trackers are available that have batteries that last months, while this one only lasts 10 days. For this application, the real restriction is the size – no other tracker is as compact as the Whistle. But with a limit only a little longer than a week, it’s possible to forget to change it. This is something we’d hope to see improved in future editions.
The Whistle 3 has made some serious improvements to both the software and the hardware of previous versions. Now, the platform feels incredibly cohesive. If you’re used to a Bluetooth tracker like the Tile Slim, you’ll be instantly amazed at how much more powerful this platform is. Considering it’s intended purpose, the fact that they put so much time and energy into building something that was highly accurate is impressive.
For the price, there is currently no better way to keep tabs on your pets. We’re constantly moving towards a world where everything important to use can be tracked, quantified, and logged, and the Whistle 3 is just the next step towards having our entire lives in the palm of our hand.
Even though the system isn’t perfected yet, with this generation of Whistle we can safely say that the concept is now ready for mainstream. It’s durable, reliable, and something that you know you can count on when you need it.