LINE: the smartphone app Japan can’t live without.
There’s a LINE feature for nearly everything now. Music, messaging and free phone calls, takeaway food, gaming, contactless payments, taxis, and remote working. Shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re glued to our phones all the time.
And we can access this stuff without touching the screen, thanks to LINE Clova speakers.
Clova smart speakers act like virtual assistants – Clova being LINE’s version of Alexa. It can tell you the weather, read you a bedtime story, set an alarm, and put some tunes on. Say the (right) words, and it’ll send a message or call someone.
When we wrote this, Clova could translate into languages like English, Chinese, and Korean. English as a default setting’s a little way off. But most of the info out there’s in Japanese, so let’s introduce you properly.
The WAVE’s the debut Clova model. It looks cool, and feels clever. Weirdly, it’s not marketed at busy young office workers with no life or friends, but at families. This video clip shows WAVE supporting everyday housewife (or househusband) activities, like cooking and hosting guests.
We see why it’s got that family focus. Talking to Clova’s so simple, even a kid can manage it. Smart assistants also learn and recognise who’s speaking. With custom user settings, it’ll call you by name.
And if you want, it’ll get fully integrated with your home. The WAVE can link up to compatible home systems, like smart lighting or the TV. It acts like a voice-activated remote control for the light and volume levels.
There’s just 1 other weird thing about Clova WAVE – it can’t make free calls via LINE. The only Clova model without that option so far. Boo.
Lovable LINE characters Brown and Sally, transformed into Clova wireless speakers. They’re the first to be given visible personalities, on top of their programmed ones. Most smart speakers don’t even have a face.
Remember, though, they won’t answer to their names. There are 2 ways to start the conversation – say ‘Clova’, or poke the speaker in the face. We’re not kidding, check the video.
Be careful when poking. Even with the built-in battery, both Clova Friends weigh under 400g… and are kinda easy to push over. They’re super portable, so moving and carrying them around’s no problem.
These 2 can make calls, send messages, and do (almost) everything else the WAVE does. Only exception’s not being able to control your lights and TV. But they’re smarter than WAVE, in a couple ways. LINE’s managed to lower the response time (between you saying ‘Clova’ and the speaker replying) by a whole second.
Friends should be well cared for. LINE thinks so – why else would Clova Friends-sized hoodies exist?
Clova Friends mini
They’re smaller, cuter, and cost less. Like LINE emojis. Honey, someone shrunk Sally and Brown!
Clova Friends mini models are palm-sized, and designed to sit in children’s bedrooms. A 7-watt amp inside keeps the sound crisp. If you played music non-stop, the Friends mini speaker’s battery would last 4-5 hours. That’s gotta be enough time to get a kid to sleep, right?
They’re smaller and lighter, but the minis boast all the features their tall Friends do. Ask and they’ll search Wikipedia, tell you the latest breaking news, and read your horoscope.
The mini lineup’s also got another friend for you to meet: Doraemon!
The detail in Doraemon’s character design sets it apart from the other Clova minis. It also had a limited-edition pirate costume cover. Let’s hope even more characters get turned into mini friends.
Connect to fun, shiny new Japan stuff on DEJAPAN
Japan gets a lot of cool stuff first. LINE announced the Clova smart speaker range before Google and Amazon joined the local market. With proxy shopping, there’s no reason to miss out based on living in another country. But, uh, we think it’s best to brush up on your Japanese before ordering a Clova.
(Passed JLPT N1 already? Go right ahead!)
Look to Japan for a modern bluetooth/wireless speaker you don’t have to talk another language to. And search the DEJAPAN website for anything else you’re interested in buying from Japan.