Bluetooth Low Energy, or Bluetooth Smart, has been popping up in all sorts of new, micro sized gadgets lately, continuing to build out the “Internet of Things”. Because the new wireless specification enables devices to use extremely low power, all sorts of buttons, trackers, and sensors are now possible. Gadget and accessories maker Nonda recently send me their new iHere 3.0 Rechargable Bluetooth Key Finder to try out. The device is a small plastic triangle about the width of my house key, and features a central button (which looks like a copy of the button on your iPhone), red/green led light, speaker for beeping, charing port, and keychain attachment hole.
Nonda makes a number of interesting gadgets, but by far the most noteworthy one is their upcoming USB-C Hub+ – I’ll post a review for that as soon as possible.
Pair the device with your smartphone, and enable all sorts of interesting applications. The app features a separation alarm, and a programmable button. When the separation alarm is activated, the iHere will start beeping whenever it’s out of range of your paired phone. The programmable button is just that – click the button on the iHere, and your phone executes one of a couple different actions – start recording audio, activate the phone’s ringer, record a gps location (for marking where you parked your car), or snap a picture – especially useful for selfie sticks.
After about two weeks of daily use on my keychain, here’s my review.
The iHere is a generally solid product, and gets the basic job done. The size is great, and shape fits well in my pocket. The color of the unit, and “iPhone” style of the button make it look good and blend in with the rest of the items I carry every day. After two weeks of occasional use, the battery is still at 98%.
The button on the unit is large, concave, and easy to press – I’m afraid that it will get accidentally pressed in my pocket, and inadvertently start recording audio, or making my phone ring – two of the actions assignable to the button. I’d prefer a slightly smaller button, or one that’s more difficult to press, like the remote key for my car. And/or, double/triple click shortcuts would be great, with the option to completely disable the single-click shortcut. Finally, the charging port is a small barrel-type connector, which a special charging cable. This needs to be Micro-USB or ideally, USB-C. I understand a USB charging connector is larger, but for somebody on the go constantly, I’d gladly have a larger, standards-based, ubiquitous charging connector rather than dragging yet another cable around with me, or fishing one out of my giant box of wires.
It’s not useful to me. I usually keep my keys by the door, but my phone goes all over the house, activating the alarm frequently and erroneously. I actually tried to turn the separation alarm off, but the unit keeps beeping even after I’ve turned the feature off. This is a pretty big issue.
Yes, I’d love a double click shortcut. Actually, in lieu of making the button smaller, I’d love to be able to disable the action on a single click, and make it only respond to a double click – that way it’s more difficult for the unit to be activated accidentally in my pocket.
To what else could I attach this?
Digital camera, briefcase, cat.
Should you buy it?
Currently I wouldn’t recommend it. I feel like the separation alarm is a bit buggy and not super useful. The button clicks too easily. Also, the look of the unit is nice, but when handling it, the plastic feels cheap and thin. Ideally, the case fit and finish will be improved to feel more like a high end key fob. Additionally, the Bluetooth pairing is a bit flaky – I understand it could be an iPhone related issue, but the unit doesn’t always stay paired with my iPhone 6, even when it’s sitting right next to it, with Bluetooth on. The iOS version of the mobile app is well-designed and works well, save for a few bugs. In the next version, I’d like to see more customizable shortcuts, as well as double and triple click shortcuts, and the option to turn the single click shortcut off.
- Other shortcut actions I’d like to see include:
- Check in to current location on Foursquare
- Activate IFTTT action
- Turn on flashlight
- Place a call to a pre-defined number
- Send a pre-defined text message
- Various HomeKit actions and scenes
The Android version of the app works just fine, and the same feature advice applies.
The iHere is a great concept, and a solid initial offering. Once details of the software and operation are worked out, case quality improved, and BT pairing integrity strengthened, this will be a great addition to the mobile multitaskers keychain.