When you hear “mobile home”, the first thing that comes to mind is a house on wheels. But this mobile home is nothing like a house trailer; this one is a portable replacement for your iPhone’s home button.
Mobile Home is a creation of Plano, Texas based, Beanco Technology. It’s like they’ve detached your iPhone`s home button and put it in a little package that resembles a garage door remote. Just like the garage remote, simply mount Mobile Home on your dash or attach it to the visor in your car. With a push of a button, you can bring Siri to life, leaving your iPhone’s features usable while it’s safely and legally in your pocket or purse. The concept is so simple you wonder why someone hadn’t come up with it sooner.
Mobile Home is designed to work with your car’s in-vehicle system. But for those of us with slightly antiquated yet still roadworthy vehicles, fear not, it can also be used with other hands-free devices like the SuperTooth Crystal Bluetooth Speakerphone which we looked at previously and I used as a test device. Of course, theoretically, it could work directly with the iPhone propped up in your car, but that would be most impractical.
It’s really easy to set up and even easier if you’re not someone like me who too often reads instructions after the fact. You’re actually Bluetooth pairing devices together; first your iPhone with your vehicle and then Mobile Home to your iPhone, in essence making Mobile Home your iPhone’s home button. Make sense?
The pairing button on the gadget is not totally obvious. What actually looks like an LED or light button is really what’s used to pair. You need to hold it down until it begins to flash green- and then it’s discoverable.
Moves Like Siri
So what can you do with Mobile Home? In short, anything you can do with Siri. Dial a phone, read and compose email, send Facebook updates and Tweets as well as create, send and listen to text messages. You can also get turn-by-turn directions, set calendar reminders and even stream your tunes. I really like that you don’t have to sync contacts or upload them to another device; you can use mobile home with Siri just as you would with your iPhone. So for example, instead of asking it to dial a number, you can say phone home or phone Ray at work. Similarly you can say schedule coffee with Alice Smith for Friday at 3:30PM. There’s a comprehensive list of voice commands and usage ideas along with relevant examples on the company’s website.
And since it’s using your iPhone, you can give instructions in any language Siri is fluent in, rather than any limitations your in-car system may have.
It’s that simple and there’s no extra software or apps to install. As Siri evolves (look at what they’ve added with iOS 7) it seems, so far, that the device should be able to take advantage of it.
As far as physically attaching it, it comes with the options of a removable and reversible metal visor clip or an included Velcro attachment.
Mobile Home is a neat little device and pairing it with your iPhone makes for a wireless dynamic duo. It makes sense, especially with hands-free becoming the law just about everywhere. And even more so, now that courts in cities like Los Angeles and Hamilton, Ontario are ruling that even holding your phone violates local legislation. But beyond that, it’s also about safety. According to Beanco’s research, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
Now Mobile Home is not for everyone. If you don’t use Siri, this may not be the gadget for you. If you have one of the newer car models you might already have Siri integration as part of Apple’s “Eye’s Free” initiative. You also need to remember that when you’re using Siri, particularly for turn-by-turn navigation, you are consuming data. Also, as much as we love Siri, we all know sometimes we may not get what we ask for and Mobile Home totally relies on voice commands.
Mobile Home runs on a single coin cell battery and is compatible with an iPhone or iPod touch with Siri/Voice control. It retails for $79 U.S. but it’s being offered at an introductory price of $59 U.S. (and it has been for a while with no end in sight) and has a 1-year warranty. You can get your Mobile Home directly from Beanco through Amazon.com. (If you purchase from Beanco via Amazon, the 30-day money back guarantee is extended to 60 days.)
Utilizes the power of Siri
Helps keep eyes on the road
Not limited by in-car system’s functionality
Relies solely on Siri
No on-board song controls
Rating: 4 / 5
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.