Pioneer is launching a new Lightning-connected speaker today called the Rayz Rally that is designed to host conference calls. The Rally doesn’t have a battery inside, so it has to be plugged into your iPhone to work. (You could also make calls over your iPad or iPod Touch.) On the bright side, you can charge while you listen because the Rally has a Lightning port, too. Really, the Rally is just a plug-and-play speaker that Pioneer claims has been optimized for call clarity. The company also says it detects when you’re playing music instead of calling someone and adjusts its levels accordingly.
It comes with a companion iOS app that updates the device, as well as a built-in “smart button” that can mute / unmute calls or play / pause music. I can’t honestly tell what’s “smart” about it. During a demo of the Rally, I was told that the device might be best suited for someone who works from home since they might both take phone calls and listen to music in an open setting (versus headphones in an office). While I think that makes some sense, I also don’t know whether people working from home care if they have a conference call speaker. They could make calls from their laptop or just put their phone on speaker, especially if it’s just them in a room. That said, I could see people who travel for work frequently using the Rally. It’s portable and meant to be thrown into a bag. This use case seems more likely.
The Rally fits in with Pioneer’s recent push into Lightning-powered accessories. Earlier this year, it launched the Rayz Plus earbuds that have adaptive noise canceling and can charge while you listen. Those earbuds cost $149.95. Generally, it seems Pioneer thinks the Lightning port will be a major part of its business going forward. While that might be at least somewhat true because of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus’ missing headphone jack, wireless would seem to have been a stronger bet.
The Rally costs $99.95 and is available through Apple.com or at Apple Stores worldwide. It comes in three colors: white, black, and space gray.