Though Philips and others have docks that work with Android devices, we haven't seen many connected alarm clocks that truly take advantage of the platform as most accessory makers concentrate their resources on buliding great iPhone or iPad docks. Fortunately, accessory-maker Gear4 feels your pain so it's coming out with the Android.Connect, a clock dock that lets you control the alarm and radio directly from your Android phone or tablet and even carries audio directly over the USB cable on select devices.
This week at Google I/O, Gear4 was showing off the Android.Connect and we had a chance to take a look at the device, which is due this fall for an undetermined price that a rep said would likwly be "sub $150." We were impressed with the Connect's simple, black plastic design,because it is shaped to accomodate all manner of Android devices, from the smallest phone to a larger tablet.
Unlike other docks that have a micro USB port in one position and contain small mounting mechanisms, the Android.Connect uses your phone's own USB cable to connect. In one sense, this may seem inelegant, because you have a wire on something that is meant to be a dock, but because there's no fixed connector and a high plastic back to support the weight of your device, you can position your slate or phone in either portrait or landscape mode and it will stay mounted, with its screen accessible to you.
Having the screen on your device accessible is key, because the Android.Connect will ship with an app that lets you control the clock, the alarms and the radio. However, even without the app, the dock charges your device and, on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean devices, it actually sends and receives audio over the USB cable, no audio cable or Bluetooth connection required. The ability to send media data down the USB cable is new for Jelly Bean, but Gear4 says the dock will work with any device running Android 2.3 and above because the app will provide backward compatibility.
Unfortunately, Gear4 did not have the Android.Connect's app ready to show at Google I/O, but when we saw the dock, it was playing audio directly from the Google Play music app on a Nexus 7, because the music-over-USB functionality works on Jelly Bean devices today. We look forward to getting our hands on the Android.Connect when it launches this fall, but until then, check out the video below for a closer look.