Republic Wireless today announced two new phone-based devices referred to as Relay and Anywhere HQ. While they are essentially phones, they are not quite the traditional type of phones many would expect to be announced by a carrier. This is due to both Relay and Anywhere HQ being ‘screenless’ devices. As Republic Wireless today announced two devices which although have no displays they are fully capable of providing a phone experience and allowing people to communicate with each other.
Relay (shown above) is a device which not only acts as a phone, but also acts as a tracking device. As a result, the company is positioning this device as more useful to families where parents want to keep better track of their children’s whereabouts and as a means to stay in direct contact with younger family members without necessarily having to provide them with a smartphone to do so. The actual unit looks a lot like a small Google Home Mini device and responds in much the same way when a parent presses its activation button - as the device is also equipped with Google Assistant. Therefore, the virtual assistant can be launched and asked various questions, or can be coupled with the corresponding Android app to provide location information on additional roaming Relay devices (used by the younger family members). In contrast, the Anywhere HQ is more of a traditional home phone albeit housed within a speaker. This is not actually the first time the Anywhere HQ has been spotted although as part of the announcement post today Republic Wireless has officially confirmed the features on offer with the Anywhere HQ. Including how this is a voice-activated smart speaker which is also equipped with Google Assistant. Likewise, as this is a home phone of sorts, users can make and receive calls all by initiating a voice command, or by picking up the 'handset' aspect and using in more of a traditional home phone manner. This is a product which forms part of the company’s larger ‘Anywhere’ initiative which looks to extend the user’s phone number to other devices. Therefore calls made through the Anywhere HQ will show for recipients as calls made from the user’s phone number.
One of the added benefits on offer with both Relay and Anywhere HQ is that they both are LTE-enabled. So neither of which need to be connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for them to work. As for availability, Relay is due to become available to buy in early 2018 and the cost will be dependent on how many are needed. For example, two Relay devices (the minimum required) will cost $149 while a pack of three Relay units will be priced at $199. It is worth noting the suggested prices is just for the units, with each unit also requiring a $6.99 per month charge for full functionality. Anywhere HQ on the other hand has no set release date or price as of yet, although the company states it will enter its ‘Republic Labs program’ for user testing and refinement during January, 2018.