What's better than Siri or Google Maps? XOWi is

Have you ever asked Siri for a traffic report? Don't bother if you're driving. Have you ever had Google Maps tell you to, "Return to route"? Frustrating isn't it? XOWi is the little gadget that can take the pain away.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

[Note: This is not a review. It is a product spotlight.]

Just let me say this up front: I've always wanted a Star Trek communicator. One that really works. I've found something that comes really close in a neat little gadget that its developers call XOWi (pronounced Zoey). I think it should be called Ka-ching! because it's a brilliant product and I wish I'd thought of it.

It's easy to beat up on Siri or Google Maps because of some very obvious shortcomings. For example, if you ask Siri for a traffice report, it gives you a map. That's not helpful if you're trying to find the best way around an unfamiliar city. That, and you can't look at it while you're in traffic. And Google Maps failed me too many times in short downtown Austin walks during my recent trip to SpiceWorld 2013

I kept hearing, "Return to route", when I got off track. Really? "Return to route", that's what I get? What if I can't return to route? I gave up on Google Maps and went back to Siri. It's no fun walking ten blocks to a destination and finding that the destination doesn't exist. Maddening is what it is. In three days of downtown Austin, I went on one errant walk per day. That's a high fail rate, if you ask me. I resorted to asking strangers for directions, which is always interesting.

Side Note: Have you ever noticed when you ask someone on the street or in a convenience store how to get somewhere, he or she either isn't from here or he or she just moved here and isn't familiar with street names? It's enough to make me rely on Siri but not enough to make me rely on Google Maps. I'd rather buy a sextant and navigate by the stars.

I now return you to my XOWi post, already in progress.

It's hard to believe one little electronic gadget can do all that it does. Here's a list of things that I know it can do:

  • Provide verbal traffic conditions
  • Give a weather report
  • Navigate TV channels
  • Quiz you on trivia
  • Read your Facebook messages
  • Tell you who your new Twitter followers are
  • Play your choice of music
  • Play your favorite podcasts
  • Locate restaurants for you
  • Make phone calls
  • Take notes
  • Tell jokes
  • Turn on/off lights
  • Keep track of your eBay transactions

If you don't believe it, watch this video with Ahmed Bouzid, as he demonstrates XOWi's traffic reporting capability:


Besides being a very cool product, what do you think the implications are for BYOD? As soon as I saw the demos for XOWi, I knew that this device was perfect for BYODers. Why? Because it can perform all those things via voice commands that you multitaskers do by hand or with multiple devices.

Just think about it. You can tell XOWi to make a phone call while you're typing an email or get a status on your social media campaign while you're on hold.

It's great while you're on the road, when you have your hands full, or when you need an extra pair of hands to do something. It's like a personal assistant that does what you want, when you want but never talks back or goes on vacation. I know I sound like an ad for XOWi but I'm seriously impressed with it. Although I've not actually held one in my very own hands, I've watched multiple demos, viewed all of the videos, and carried on multiple conversations with Mr. Bouzid about the XOWi. And I like it. I like it a lot. 

For BYOD, it provides hands-free, true voice-controlled work. For home or school, it's a companion that can do just about everything but open a soda and bring it to you. Maybe that's in the plans for XOWi 2.0. I can dream, can't I?

Did you see it read the medicine label? If you missed that, watch this video and keep an eye out at approximately 55 seconds in.

Enterprise? One to beam aboard.

As of this writing, there's no retail price given and I forgot to ask that, in my excitement, of Mr. Bouzid. My assumption is that the XOWi will have a comfortable consumer price point.

Take a look at the XOWi and let me know what you think. Use the comments section to tell me what you like or don't like about the device.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with XOWi, its parent company, its owners or developers. I just found the product to be very interesting for BYOD, home use, and senior citizens. This post is not sponsored or paid. I'm solely responsible for its content. -Ken Hess

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