Review: iKettle – The World’s First Wifi Kettle!

 

Yesterday I took delivery of the iKettle – a new type of kettle that unlike 99% of the other kettles on the market, is advertised as a wifi-enabled device that can be controllable by your iPhone or Android device, made by a company called Smarter Apps.

Design kettle side

Upon removing the iKettle from the packaging, it comes in 2 pieces. You have the base which has the coil for the kettle to sit on and connect to which houses the power cord and the buttons to control the device manually. The second piece is the actual kettle itself, made from stainless steel which has a nice finish and for which you can also buy different coloured ’skins’ so that you can customise the look to suit your tastes. On top of the device is a hinged plastic lid which opens easily with the touch of a button, enabling you hold the kettle and open the lid with one hand whilst you use your spare hand to manage the tap. It’s a small but important detail that too many other kettles fall down at due to removable lids. The iKettle holds a maximum of 1.8 litres which upon examination with my existing kettle, proved to be able to store more water and therefore less re-fills! The indicator to show you how much water it can hold, is on the inside but is easily viewable when filling the iKettle with water and is not obscured which again is another positive over most kettles.

Design kettle top png

Upon connecting the base unit to the power socket and switching it on, there is a standby button on the base which pulses a red light to indicate that it is in standby mode. After filling with water, I easily connected the iKettle to it’s base and pressed the standby button. At this point, you could hear it starting to boil the water and on the base there are several buttons alluding to different temperatures that you can choose to boil the water at – I left it on the default 100c. Whilst inspecting the buttons, I also noticed a keep warm button which states in the manual that after boiling the water, it will aim to keep the temperature of the water the same for 20 minutes which works by re-boiling the water (only for a few seconds) so you don’t have to completely re-boil the kettle if you were not ready to pour when it initially finishes it’s boiling cycle which is another positive.

I wouldn’t say that iKettle was any faster or slower than any average kettle for the time it took to actually boil the water, in fact I am sure there are kettles on the market which can boil water quicker than the iKettle but the whole point of this kettle is the convenience and the fact that you can remotely activate the iKettle to start boiling when you are somewhere else in your home or office!

Nexus 22

Which leads me onto the accompanying iPhone app. Once you have downloaded the free app from the App store, upon first use of the app you are guided via on-screen instructions on how to connect the iKettle to your existing wifi network. Upon successful connection, you get a nice user interface with touch screen buttons to be able to turn on and off the iKettle, keep warm, change temperature settings etc. If you access the menu within the app, you will discover more settings where you can have the app automatically prompt you at set times of the day to whether you would like the app to tell the iKettle to start boiling the kettle. It also has another feature where you can set your home location between certain times of the day and your phone will recognise when you have arrived home and will prompt you with a ‘Welcome home, shall I pop the kettle on?” message where you can then tap yes to start the iKettle boiling remotely. You can customise the app so that it can give you notifications on when to refill the iKettle and when it has boiled, when it’s not attached to the base etc.

Upon using the product for the last 24 hours, I have noticed that it would be nice for the iKettle to automatically turn on at certain times of the day rather than at the moment where it just prompts you to turn on at certain times of the day – you still have to tap yes in the app but upon speaking with their customer support today, they did confirm that feature is being worked on for the next release of the app which will be a free software update via the App Store.

 

Product Features:

  • Control your iKettle via your mobile device
  • Easy one-touch set up
  • Wake up and Welcome home mode/Timer
  • Choose from four temperature settings
  • Keep warm feature keeps the iKettle at your desired temperature for up to 30 minutes
  • Super easy to clean – removable filter and no internal element
  • Auto shut off with boil-dry protection
  • Stainless steel design with soft-touch handle
  • LED backlit control panel
  • iKettle skins:
    • Available in Blue, Green, Pink, Taupe & Yellow
    • Match your kettle to your kitchen
    • Reduces the risk of accidental burns
    • Insulates, keeping your water warmer for longer
    • Lovely soft-touch feel silicone
    • Simple to fix and remove
  • Connectivity:
    • Wireless 802.11b/gx
    • WPA/WPA2
    • Works on Android 4+ and Apple iOS7+
    • Requires a 2.4Ghz router
  • Power:
    • Has a standard 3-pin UK plug
    • Voltage 220-240V
    • For use outside of the UK, the iKettle will require a transformer to bring the voltage to 220-240V (not included)
    • Frequency 50/60Hz
    • Power input 1850-2200X
  • Box Contents:
    • iKettle
    • WiFi Base Unit

Dimensions:

  • Kettle Capacity is approximately 1.8 Litres
  • Box Measures approximately 21cm(W) x 24cm(H) x 20.5cm(D)
  • Weighs approximately 1.6kg


 
Pros:

  • Fantastic Remote Control
  • Boil Dry protection with prompt to refill with water
  • Quality, polished feel to the design
  • Simple, effective reliable accompanying app to control
  • Better than average water capacity
  • One handed re-fill operation capability
  • Choice of different colour skins to customise to your own taste
Cons:

  • Needs automatic scheduling to turn on rather than prompting (being worked on)
  • 4-5 minutes boil time from cold
  • Standby light constantly pulses when not in use

Summary

Overall, I am very impressed with the world’s first wifi kettle and it has lived up to my hopes and expectations since pre-ordering the product earlier this year. The potential for 3rd party developer integration with existing home automation products like SmartThings and Wemo etc., all point to an exciting future and this is another device and appliance than can be controlled within ‘The Internet of Things’. It is a niche product, there is no denying that but as I said, integrating this type of device with existing automation technology and to see how developers can further the experience, points to an exciting future – as long as they stop for tea breaks.

Nest’s Tony Fadell: No Ads on Thermostats

 

Liz Gannes:

So Fadell, who is speaking next week at our Code Conference, tried to clarify the matter. “Nest is being run independently from the rest of Google, with a separate management team, brand and culture,” he said in an emailed statement. “For example, Nest has a paid-for business model, while Google has generally had an ads-supported business model. We have nothing against ads — after all Nest does lots of advertising. We just don’t think ads are right for the Nest user experience.”

Google had earlier said that the filing published today was submitted prior to its acquisition of Nest. The specific wording said, “a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.” This was in a section where Google was trying to justify why it doesn’t break out numbers for mobile advertising revenue from other advertising by saying that phones are just one of very many integrated platforms.

Google had earlier put out a statement saying something similar, though perhaps it means more coming directly from Fadell. “We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google’s product roadmap. Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans.”

Panic over – for the moment. For customers who were worried about Google’s purchase of Nest and their thermostats, this should come as a relief for the foreseeable future. Fadell has created such a great product and Google just wants to own it, not interfere with it. For now.

iOS 8 changes Needed: Photos and Camera

 

Serenity Caldwell:

Apple’s Photo Stream brought effortless image backup to the masses, but it came with a major limitation: Only the most-recent 1000 photos are stored on the company’s servers. To sync more photos, you need to hook Photo Stream up to your Mac. In addition, deleting Photo Stream images is an arduous process, and one that deletes only the version of the photo stored in Photo Stream—not the copy in your Camera Roll.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this message came up when deleting images from your Camera Roll?

So let’s, again, simplify. Your Camera Roll should be your Photo Stream—any image you take on your iPhone should be backed up to the cloud. If you want to sync other albums, pay for more storage. Both Loom—recently acquired by Dropbox—and Picturelife offer large paid storage lockers for images, and I’m hoping Apple might take a page from these startups. iPhoto for the Mac is all well and good, but it seems silly that we’re manually syncing our photo libraries via USB to get our images. Let’s move this to Apple’s servers—even if it comes at a monetary cost.

Auto-backup for the Camera app could also solve the “duplicate photos” problem between Photo Stream, iPhoto sync, and Camera Roll. Currently, even if you delete a screenshot from your Camera Roll, you have to delete that image again in Photo Stream to remove it from the servers and your Mac. If your Photo Stream backup were your Camera Roll, deleting once would delete everywhere.

I echo Serenity’s points – deleting photos twice, once from Camera Roll and then again from Photo Stream is tiresome and is exactly why most folk having all their photos stuck on their iPhones, taking up storage space and not knowing the best way to manage them. Apple has got to look at this issue soon – even Google are making their photo management solution attractive.

Change your eBay, PayPal passwords now

 

Zach Epstein:

eBay may have been the victim of some kind of breach. The company is apparently preparing to instruct all users to change their passwords as soon as possible, as Engadget has found preliminary notices with a potentially troubling note.

On eBay-owned PayPal’s press site, a notice has been posted under the headline “eBay Inc. To Ask All eBay Users To Change Passwords.” At the time of this writing, the only text in the body of the post is “placeholder text.”

It’s unclear when eBay plans to update the notice or issue a press release on the matter, but one thing is probably pretty clear: Change your eBay password immediately.

Password(s) changed. Over to you..

Streaming & Subscription is the Way to Go

 

Bradley Chambers:

We’ve actually been doing it with music for years. How’s that tape collection working out for you? What about that CD collection? Can you play that in your new Mac that doesn’t have a CD player? Even digital media has a shelf life. We’ve moved from 128k songs from iTunes with DRM to 256 AAC iTunes songs. Do you think this is the end for digital music quality? As time goes along, formats will change and devices will change. You might own a lower quality version, but what about the new HD format that goes along with those fancy new bluetooth headphones that someone is probably working on? You’ll want to upgrade to new copies of your favorite albums.

Content as a Service (CaaS) is the future. I think Netflix really primed the pump for people being willing to pay for a monthly content access fee. At $9/mo, you get a decent back catalog of movies, a really nice TV show inventory, and a really nice selection of kids shows. Why do I care about owning a movie that I’ll watch one time? Why do I need to own season 3 of Breaking Bad? I’ll probably watch it 1 time. CaaS is also key for discoverability. In my testing of the Beats Music service, I’ve discovered some new artists based on some of the recommendations. I probably would not drop $10 on an album that Beats recommends to me, but I’ll certainly add it to my library and listen to it later. I know that if I hate it, I am only out a little time. With Netflix, if a movie stinks, I can turn it off. If I rent it from iTunes, I’ll be out the $5. A-la-cart pricing for media basically kills discoverability. People will go with what is safe when they are having to make a conscious decision about what to buy.

Bradley makes some interesting points. I have always embraced digital content – i.e. stop buying CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-ray’s etc but now that we have switched to digital, maybe it’s smart to stop buying digital content for when digital is no longer compatible in it’s current form soon. For music, stop buying music off iTunes – get it from Spotify or the soon-to-be-bought-by-Apple Beats Music. Get your movies & TV shows from services like Netflix or Amazon Instant. You pay a regular monthly fee but if you think about it, it’s cheaper than buying/renting 2/3 movies/albums per month and you are future proofing yourself continuously.

Apple plans to Introduce split-screen iPad multitasking in iOS 8

 

Mark Gurman:

The ability to use multiple applications simultaneously on a tablet’s display takes a page out of Microsoft’s playbook. Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets has a popular “snap” multitasking feature that allows customers to snap multiple apps onto the screen for simultaneous usage. The feature is popular in the enterprise and in environments where users need to handle multiple tasks at the same time.

Microsoft has even released an ad comparing multitasking features for the Surface and iPad:

The feature has opened up the door for the Surface to be a true laptop replacement, and will further herald the iPad as Apple’s vision of the future for mobile computing.

In addition to allowing for two iPad apps to be used at the same time, the feature is designed to allow for apps to more easily interact, according to the sources. For example, a user may be able to drag content, such as text, video, or images, from one app to another.

A sure sign of Apple evolving the iPad and iOS is when they embrace ideas that competitors already have, but ideas that Apple have stayed away from to make sure they get it right. I have always preferred the focused-one app at a time scenario but even if Apple just made the feature an option in settings, it still further makes the iPad and iOS in particular more powerful still.

Apple just hired the man behind the best camera phone in the world

 

Brad Feed:

The absolute best thing about Nokia’s high-end smartphones in recent years has been their cameras. Not only are they head-and-shoulders above the competition in terms of megapixel count but also when it comes to camera software features that let you take clear, vibrant pictures in just about any setting. Now, however, it seems that the iPhone may be poised to steal some of the Lumia’s camera thunder.

Engadget reports that Apple has just hired former senior Nokia Lumia engineer Ari Partinen, whom Nokia has in the past described as its “own camera expert.”

One of Partinen’s biggest achievements during his time at Nokia was working on the PureView technology that the company debuted in 2012 and that has helped Nokia smartphone cameras deliver best-in-the-industry low-light photography, so it seems that future iPhone cameras stand to get a big boost when it comes to snapping pictures in the dark.

iPhone takes arguably the best daylight photographs of any smartphone. The Nokia Lumia (no argument) takes the best low-light photographs. We can all look forward to the iPhone having potentially the best camera in any smartphone, for day and night photographs in future models soon.

Switch from Google Search to DuckDuckGo Now!

 

Chris Smith:

DuckDuckGo touts its service as “the search engine that doesn’t track you,” a reminder that’s still posted on its home page. Following the numerous reports detailing the various sophisticated mass-spying tools that allow the NSA and other secret agencies to collect data in bulk from various devices connected to the Internet, and from online services, many users have switched from DuckDuckGo from other search engines, an earlier report revealed.

Hopefully, Apple will make DuckDuckGo one of the default browser choices in OS X and iOS this year. I urge you to make it your homepage for your PC or Mac.

The Diminishing Relevance of Blu-ray

 

Yoni Heisler:

Just last week, Sony warned shareholders that revenue from the company’s 2013 fiscal year would be much lower than previously anticipated. This was, of course, in large part due to Sony’s decision to exit the PC business. But also playing a role in the company’s bleak financial picture was the diminishing relevance of Blu-ray.

Anybody in their right frame of mind could see back then that Blu-ray was never going to last. Yes, it had great quality with arguably better quality resolutions compared to its streaming and physical rivals like Netflix, iTunes etc, but the physical disc format will follow the floppy disk, CD-ROM, HD-DVD etc.,and will gradually become irrelevant going forward. Digital is the future.

New Samsung Galaxy S5 ad forced to cherry pick lines from lackluster reviews

 

AppleInsider:

He added, “the Galaxy S5’s finger sensor is unusable. It has failed to recognize my finger just about every time I have tried it. It has been so terrible that the sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature. And it makes me wonder about Samsung’s capacity to keep up with Apple’s innovations.”

Talking of Samsung, this is a great read. Shocking how far Samsung went to get positive review quotes from reviews that upon reading, were far from positive.