Mobile Home -- a Bluetooth home button for Apple's iPhone (October 16th, 2013)
Product Manufacturer: Beanco
- Big, unmissable home button - Removable clip - User replaceable battery - Good technical support
- Quick power-saving shutdown - Unverified reports of music stream interruption
While automobile Siri integration is surging, late model cars with only basic smartphone compatibility are left in the lurch. Chargers are often inside a dash, making the phone's microphone inaccessible or other inconveniences. Additionally, many states have outright banned holding and using mobile phones without a hands-free device, making tapping the home button to access Siri illegal. Beanco's Mobile Home device is a simple Bluetooth peripheral for the iPhone which purports to enable Siri's use with any car's hands-free system.
We here at MacNN and Electronista consider ourselves fairly well-informed, with the ability to read a manual and figure things out. When first clipping the barely-there peripheral onto the visor of our vehicle, we tried to pair the device without much success. It turns out that the pairing button isn't quite the same as advertised -- the LED for pairing turns out to also be the button to press to pair the phone with the device, a fact we only figured out after we contacted Beanco technical support. Minor technical foible passed, we continued our testing.
In practice, the oversized Home button matching Apple's iconography does exactly what it looks like it should -- function as a big home button, connected through Bluetooth to the paired iPhone somewhere in the user's car. One long press activates Siri, who then communicates through the in-car hands-free system. Simple.
We've used the device for some time now, and have had no problems with it. We've had no interruption in music streaming from the paired phone that we've seen reported elsewhere for the Mobile Home, both on several Hyundai models, and a 2010 Ford Explorer. The only relatively minor flaw we've encountered has been a fairly short idle period before it shuts down, requiring one button press to wake it, and a second to activate Siri. Minor, but if time is of the essence -- such as finding where a turn needs to be made -- then it may pose a problem.
In this era of multifunction devices, peripherals that claim to do too much, and products that have overwrought design for the functionality, the Mobile Home is a breath of fresh air. It does one thing. It does it well. One question remains, though -- why is there not a Star Trek lapel pin version of this?