Take your smart assistant with you with Jinni

The Jinni smart assistant
Credit: Chris Ward

Jinni is a curious little device that combines the Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri (iPhone only) smart assistants into one small black box, paired to your phone by Bluetooth. When you want to access an assistant, pull Jinni out of your pocket, hold your finger on the appropriate button and off you go. Thanks to the API access for the first two platforms, you only lose out on minor functionalities from ‘official’ devices. I don’t own an iPhone so couldn’t test Siri, but as the platform is far less open, I assume it has fewer options available.

As you might imagine with a multi-function device, setting up and using the Jinni is slightly fiddly, but the unit I tested is a prototype, so make some allowances. For all platforms apart from Siri you install a custom app that you use for settings and authenticating with the external platforms. It also displays notifications, but it was unclear to me as to which, as with my Alexa experimentation I received most notifications in the Alexa app anyway. At times it was fiddly to use with network timeouts and unresponsiveness, but it’s hard to tell if this is due to the device, the Bluetooth connection, or the assistant service, so your mileage may vary. When it did work, then as you can see from the video below, the audio is thin and quiet, but loud enough for short interactions.

I wonder how long Jinni was in production, as now you can use all these assistants on a smartphone via apps, but minus the convenience of the Jinni’s size. The Jinni also lets you control calls and music, so adds an extra, more discrete control option for your devices. I asked the manufacturer what they considered the unique selling point of the Jinni and they highlighted convenience. Aside from some Android smartphones with Google Assistant, you typically need to pull out a phone and open an application. Ok, not massively inconvenient really, but the small discrete nature of the Jinni means you can hang it around your neck, clipped to clothing or on a car or bike, and access an assistant much quicker. Also, once you press an assistant button, it stays awake for 30 minutes so that you can re-access even quicker. I imagine Jinni as a potentially useful device for those whose clothing rarely has pockets, with Jinni paired to a phone in a bag, it’s a small, convenient and affordable device to use your phone without needing to have it your hands.

The price point is much less than some official home assistants, or smartwatches, which offer some crossover functionalities. At worst, treat jinni as an opportunity to test the three major assistants on a semi-independent device and see if you would consider buying a dedicated device.

Jinni has an active Kickstarter campaign, so if you like the sound of it, then pre-order yours now.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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