The three most popular AI-powered smart assistants are all available on the iPhone, but only Siri can hear and acknowledge your voice requests while the phone is locked. For Alexa and Google Assistant, you have to be actively using your iPhone and have the Amazon or Google apps open to access them. That’s a problem, because as any iPhone user will tell you, Siri is bad at almost everything when compared to the competition.
The TalkSocket is a clever solution to this problem: a stick-on smart speaker that gives you instant access to Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa even while your iPhone is locked.
The TalkSocket attaches to your phone the same way a PopGrip does, using a non-permanent adhesive sticker and an extendable accordion mount, but it should also work with any PopSocket mount, allowing you to stick it other places or even just hang it from a carabiner. It’s powered by its own battery that promises up to five days of use before needing a charge on any Qi-compatible wireless charging pad. It connects to a smartphone (including Android devices for those who prefer Alexa over Google Assistant) using low-energy Bluetooth, and it uses a pair of built-in microphones to trigger a preferred smart assistant through voice commands even while the device it’s connected to is locked.
The TalkSocket’s not really a standalone miniature smart speaker, however, as it relies on the speaker in the device it’s connected to for a smart assistant to audibly respond. It always needs to be paired and physically near a smartphone or a tablet as a result. Its functionality might seem a bit limited to some — on iOS, at least, you can certainly do a lot more with Siri — but for many iPhone users, being able to use the alternate smart assistant they already rely on at home is reason enough to finally embrace the PopSocket craze.
The creators of the TalkSocket are going the Kickstarter route for their product, and have so far managed to far surpass their modest $US25,000 ($34,933) funding goal. The usual risks for backing a crowdfunded product still apply, particularly in 2020 when even giant corporations are still having problems getting products into consumers’ hands. A little extra patience might be recommended if you back the TalkSocket, which can be preordered for about $68 with delivery expected in March of 2021.