Republic Anywhere HQ Announced - Entering Labs


#1

Republic Anywhere HQ announced today. Love the idea of building Anywhere functionality into a smart speaker.

https://republicwireless.com/republic-anywhere/

Looks like it is entering labs. Do we need to reapply if we signed up for the old labs program? (2015 I think)??

Really like seeing Republic push the ball forward.

Best,
Finch


What ever became of the desktop WiFi phone RW was developing?
#2

Hi @Finch,
This is a completely new instance of labs.

If you’re interested in HQ, you’ll want to sign up on the Anywhere page.

What kind of use do you envision?


#3

Hi @southpaw,

With the Republic Anywhere HQ, I see the potential to completely replace the need for a “landline.” (Not so much for me, but more so for my parents who have been on Republic for awhile now - but also retain a “landline” via Ooma).

In my mind, I could see this device completing replace the old phones they have in kitchens and bedrooms - while also provided a smart speaker… (I am envision Google Home/ Amazon Alexa like capabilities). This would be awesome to have a more functional device in the kitchen.

The other aspect I like is for people on extended vacation - like a summer house/ cottage where they could drop this device to provide a “landline.” Or just extended vacations in general.

I have been using my Google Home devices to make phone calls which has actually been pretty useful

Seems like a great idea!

Nice work Republic!

Best,
Finch


#4

I, for one, am quite puzzled by RW’s desire to get into the hardware business. Especially a speakerphone device, even if they give it additional “smart” capabilities. There are already a variety of Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices that are pretty much dominating this arena. My Alexa is already linked with the contacts on my RW phone and I can use it to make free VOIP calls by simply saying “Alexa, please call xxxxxxx”.

Maybe they will come up with something unique that will blow me away, but until they officially release all of the specs, I am left scratching my head…


#5

The connected home speaker market is still new enough that I don’t know anyone’s current dominance means much. Apple is also planning to get in with its forthcoming (and delayed) HomePod. Whatever one’s opinion of Apple, they’re a formidable competitor particularly within their ecosystem. How well Republic’s Anywhere HQ might compete with these industry behemoths remains to be seen.

For what its worth, Amazon’s Echo’s free calling appears to be spoofing as Caller ID the phone number one registers in the Alexa app. It’s not directly connected to that phone number. For messaging, the other side of the conversation must be willing to install the Alexa app on their devices. Linking a “home phone” is possible via the forthcoming Echo Connect but that’s another device purchase.

We’ll see. I was very active in the Community of Republic’s former sister service RingTo (no longer under development and closed to new users). Part of what attracted me was the potential of being able to call and message using my number via multiple devices without needing to ask the other side of the conversation to install a particular app or purchase a specific device.

I think Anywhere generally (not limited to the HQ) offers the possibility of realizing the potential I saw in RingTo. As for the HQ itself, it looks like one would be able to walk around with the top of the device as one would with a typical handset, if one cared to. The teaser web page also says “Fully Mobile with LTE”, so it seems it will be portable in the absence of WiFi. Amazon’s Echo would need to be tethered to another device’s WiFi connection. Then there’s “Live Call Grab” (whatever that turns out to be), so it also seems answering calls on the HQ will be possible. I don’t see that Amazon’s Echo has that capability.

Anyway, I just bought a Google Home Mini to practice with while waiting to see whether the HQ is an answer to my wants or not. Time will tell.


#6

As @rolandh said, I believe it has potential. Specifically, because it is being integrated (and developed for) Republic Anywhere. Since it will be integrated with Anywhere, it, presumably, won’t have to have a connection with your phone in order to use your phone number for sending/receiving calls. I have never used Alexa or Google Home, but I believe that’s something Alexa and Google Home can’t do. I don’t know any more about the HQ than you guys do so I emphasized the word “presumably” .


#7

I kind of think these speaker devices are going to go the way of 3D TV. I could be wrong, though. I just always seem to have my phone a few feet from me, and it’s enough for me to have the phone as the “always listening” device in my home. I just don’t see the point.


#8

The thought has crossed my mind as well. There’s a lot of industry firepower betting you’re wrong. :slightly_smiling_face: For me, part of the enjoyment of being a tech geek is watching what succeeds and what fails.

Edited to Add:

I bought the Google Home Mini for $29 on a Black Friday special. Best Buy was kind enough to throw in a $10 gift card, which will get used. The net cost of roughly $20 (can’t forget the ever popular sales tax) is modest enough for playing with even though its long-term value to me is questionable.


#9

I picked up an echo dot for $30 with the tp link smart switch at best buy ($5 add-on with the dot purchase).

I have the echo dot set up in my car…for voice activated music. The data burn is rather quick for using the phone as a hot-spot but an amusing set-up worth enjoying towards the end of the billing cycle for the use-it-or-lose-it data remaining on the plan.


#10

@rolandh: You may be right. I guess time will tell. But I think that in order to be successful it will also need to be more than a portable speakerphone. Perhaps they will build Alexa or Google Home capability into the device as well. I have had the Alexa for over a year now and I can say that I definitely use it significantly more as an information resource than I do as a speakerphone. Being able to add things to a shopping list when you think about needing them. Calculating what a sale price of an item is that is 15% off (my wife loves that). Checking the weather. And of course much more. There isn’t a day that goes by that Alexa doesn’t provide some useful service for us, but in the 2 months that I’ve had it set us as a speakerphone we have only used it once for that purpose. We just don’t seem to have much need for talking together over a single device, and using it for just one person simply annoys the other person in the room… :wink:

As for the number spoofing, you are correct. The recipient sees my RW cell number, even though it isn’t using my cellular service for the call. Which I see as a good thing, actually.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how HQ develops, but I still find it a very odd and perplexing business venture for a cell phone company, and I can’t imagine it gaining much traction in a world already populated with Alexas and Google Homes, and yes, as you say, the upcoming Apple device. I think that it will take a behemoth like Apple to find success as a “johnny come lately” in the smart-assistant/speakerphone environment. Still, I wish RW well. I definitely want them to be a successful company.


#11

Never have researched the Alexa, Echo, and such as I had little interest due to my bad hearing, but have always assumed that these units were just running an app on a modified android OS. If so, then the app should be able to run on any android phone, tablet, or TV box.

My guess is that RW has taken an android TV box, added an amplified speaker and microphone, and possible a battery to make the HQ. Then added the RW Anywhere app with voice input.


#12

What I am assuming/ hoping is that the device with offer the option of either Alexa or Google Assistant capabilities. It seems like this is the trend. So I don’t think Republic is getting in the hardware business per se - but offering a way to integrate or piggy back on other services.

I use Google Home now and love how I can link a number to it. That being said, the problem so far is the Google Home cannot RECEIVE calls at least yet. It essentially “spoofs” your number. The Anywhere HQ could offer full-fledged connection.


#13

Republic’s teaser page states a “Smart Assistant Built-in”. Will that be Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri (kidding), Cortana (also kidding) and/or something home brewed remains to be seen.

I purchased a Google Home Mini on a whim because of Black Friday pricing. I’m not certain the whole connected speaker thing is something I see myself using long-term.

Google Home is not only limited to making calls, as far as I know it’s limited in terms of what it sends as Caller ID to Google Voice or Project Fi numbers. Given that limitation, it may not be spoofing Caller ID but that probably doesn’t matter much.

Amazon’s Echos do spoof the Caller ID of the number registered via the Alexa app. An optional home phone link called Echo Connect is due mid December but that’s an additional hardware purchase. Today, the Echos are similarly limited to outbound calling, though presumably that changes with Echo Connect. Otherwise, there wouldn’t seem to be any point to that device.

I expect Anywhere HQ will be a SIP device, meaning a full-fledged Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connection over either WiFi or cell data connection. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about that in and of itself. Over the top (OTT) softphone apps already do this. Hardware IP Phones exist as well, though typically they use ethernet wired connections. Analog telephone adapters (ATA) like Obihai’s devices connect to WiFi networks.

In my opinion, Anywhere HQ’s niche if it catches on is as part of the overall Anywhere ecosystem.


#14

Wow… how did I manage to miss this?