Phone calls are a relatively new feature for both the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, both of which focused on music and house controls before adding calling.
On Friday, wireless carrier Republic Wireless indicated it’s taking the opposite approach, saying it plans to enter the space with a speaker that appears to be all about phone calls.
The Anywhere HQ is the company’s first hardware product. It’s an LTE-connected speaker that can be used to make calls, as well as issue commands.
Like “Alexa” on Echo and “OK Google” on Google Home, Anywhere HQ will require customers to use a start phrase — something like “OK Republic” — before it will make a call.
The speaker itself has volume and mute controls on top and a full number pad underneath.
Republic, a mobile virtual network operator that runs on Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi, said the speaker also has a built-in smart assistant and works with a customer’s phone number.
Anywhere HQ is part of Republic Wireless’ Labs program, where it’s being tested. Pricing and availability aren’t yet available, and the fine print on the announcement says that it can’t be sold until it obtains authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.
Republic Wireless didn’t immediately return a request for comment about further details.