HTC has today unveiled a new pair of accessories designed to work with its HTC One Mini smartphone (among others) in the form of a portable remote control unit called the Mini+ and a keyring-sized fob called Fetch that promises to make losing your phone, or anything else you attach it to, a thing of the past.
As we draw closer to IFA in Berlin next week, tech companies are getting keen to beat the rush of press releases certain to come flooding out of the conference, and HTC is no different.
While it’s likely keeping its biggest announcements under wraps until next week, the company was more than happy to give The Next Web a little time to play with its newest toys.
The HTC Fetch is a car key-like fob that you pair with your HTC phone via Bluetooth and which can then be used to locate it, or vice versa. For example, once paired, pressing the little button on the Fetch will make your phone ring, or the phone can be used to locate whatever the Fetch is attached to.
While it might have officially outed the device, HTC hasn’t actually said how much it will cost as yet although online retailer Clove has it listed for pre-order at £30, which seems a little pricey considering its functionality. However, there’s still time for it to come down by the time it is released. Which also hasn’t been specified.
In addition to using Fetch to find your phone or lost items (an HTC spokesman said he envisaged most being attached to key rings, but that it can be attached to anything), Fetch can also be set up to work as a remote camera shutter button on your phone as long as the camera app is open on your handset.
It also tracks the location of the dongle using Google Maps, so if you ever find yourself on the train to work worrying if you left your keys in your house door or whether you actually left them in your partners car when they dropped you off at the station, a simple check of the current (or last known) location should give you the answer, good or bad.
Think of the Mini+ as somewhere between a remote control for your HTC One Mini and a cut-down version of a phone, and that’s pretty much what it is.
While it doesn’t work with the One (at least, it’s not listed as compatible on the product page), it will play happily with the One Mini, Butterfly S, Desire 500 and Desire 200.
Tapping the back of your phone against the back of the Mini+ pairs it via NFC, and the rest of the communication between the devices is carried out over Bluetooth.
As for functionality, it can do much of what your phone can do, whether that’s controlling presentations remotely, turning music on or off, skipping tracks, operating the camera shutter, changing settings etc. In fact, checking in on BlinkFeed might be one of the few things the Mini+ can’t do.
As an added bonus, there’s also a built-in infrared sensor (and laser pointer, for those aforementioned presentations) that allows non-IR equipped phones, like the One Mini to use the handset as a remote control for the TV, as you can do as standard with the HTC One.
Naturally, as well as carrying out tasks like those already mentioned it really does act as a pseudo-second handset, providing the ability to make and receive voice calls, messages, emails etc without needing to touch your phone.
Like the Fetch, HTC has not announced specific pricing or release information about the Mini+, but it is currently listed for pre-order on Clove.co.uk for £65, making it a pretty premium accessory, if it ultimately comes to market with this price.
An HTC spokesman explained that the company envisages customers using the Mini+ in situations where they don’t want to keep lugging their phone around the house, but wanted to still be able to make/receive calls but generally control it.
Our time with the Fetch and the Mini+ was brief, but from what we saw, both accessories aim to fill a niche need at a premium price-point, and those customers, with those specific needs will likely be very happy with either.
However, hopefully Clove has been a little over-enthusiastic with its pricing and they’ll both go up for sale formally at a slightly lower cost, but if they don’t I wouldn’t expect them to be flying off the shelves. Nice to have? For sure; who likes losing their keys! But essential? No.