Appkettle Review – who fancies a cuppa?
A couple of months ago we posted about the Appkettle being made available. Now that we’ve had one in the Clove kitchen for a few weeks, it’s only proper we let you know how we’ve got on.
Clearly a product for the more gadget-obsessed among you, Appkettle combines Internet of Things connectivity with the humble kettle. The result is, as the name implies, a kettle with an app. It’s as simple as that!
But what exactly does this app do? And how versatile does it make your experience of that most simple of human endeavours: boiling water?
An electrical kettle is perhaps one of the most British of modern appliances. It’s a staple in almost every single house, flat, hotel room and bedsit.
As consumers of countless cups of tea, coffee and Pot Noodles, it may surprise Brits to know the electric kettle isn’t as ubiquitous as we might think. For instance in the USA, few household have one. You’ll still find the electric kettle across Europe and many other places around the globe.
But I digress. We’re here to talk about the newest revolution in electric kettles since 1955, when Russell Hobbs’ K1 introduced the integrated automatic thermostat.
The body feels sturdy without being too heavy and the handle has a decent length and grip. When full of water, the balance is ‘just right’ as you pour. Sharon in the office was happy to point out that it “pours very well”.
The brushed aluminium finish may not be too everyone’s tastes, although it is probably the most neutral choice. If Appkettle succeeds as a brand, maybe they will have the funds for manufacturing runs in different finishes and colours.
My only sticking point on the design would be the lid. The opening is good and wide and the lid drops satisfyingly enough into place. However, you have to physically pull it off. For anyone making regular tea rounds in an office knows, pulling the lid off a kettle can be a tumultuous experience should it have recently boiled!
It’s by no means a deal-breaker, although I would have preferred a hinged lid with a push button on the handle. That right there would be my ideal kettle design.
The buttons are Power, WiFi (to turn connection off/on), Keep Warm and + / – for manually increasing or reducing the temperature. Blue LEDs glow brightly for power, changing to red on the power button when the kettle is heating and on Keep Warm when active.
You can manually control Appkettle from the base station. One press of power will turn it on (if on at the mains obviously). Wait a moment and a second press will start heating. The default is to boil. You can though select a temperature between 60°C and 100°C using the + / – buttons.
With your smartphone on the same network, open the app. You’ll need to make an account with Appkettle with a valid email address and password. After this the app should display an alphanumeric identifier. Just tap on this and the connection is made.
Following this it takes a few seconds to calibrate the weight of the kettle on the base station. I assume it is this that allows the system to know how much water is in the kettle (total weight – known weight of Appkettle = liquid weight). Milliletres of water remaining are displayed on the app screen.
You will of course have to fill the water yourself. Appkettle hasn’t brought the art of alchemy into the 21st century, so it won’t refill itself using just air. If the water level is too low, automatic and remote heating will not activate.
The app is quite barebones but totally functional. From it you can remotely turn the base station on/off and start a manual heating to a chosen temperature.
Aside from this there are also a few scheduling tools. “Favourites” can be saved: these amount a stored temperature and brew time in minutes. You can then schedule a favourite to occur at a certain time with a repeat timer on it.
Sadly at the time of writing the system doesn’t let you schedule more than one event at a time. So for instance while you can have a recurring weekday morning (one event), you can’t also have recurring Elevensies, or add midday on a Sunday to the mix.
This is probably the biggest limitation in my eyes. There can’t reasonably be any memory or storage reason for this. I’ve actually asked the team if there is a plan for the scheduling system to be extended. It almost seems like an oversight that might have just been forgotten once the basic system was up and running.
There are a handful of other features in the app. The Appkettle records power usage, so you can calculate the cost of using it if you know your energy supplier’s kWh unit cost. You can also have the app deliver up to 6 recurring alarms/notifications. I think these are meant to be a workaround to having multiple events scheduled at once, by sending you a reminder.
Finally there is a Baby Bottle mode. Set for a certain time (with an optional repeat) this will boil water then reduce the temperature to 70°C and keep warm. Baby Bottle and ‘Schedule’ cannot currently be used at the same time.
I think by far the most interesting part of Appkettle is the new Alexa Skill. For a run down of how this works, you can view the video below. Set up instructions can be found on Appkettle’s website.
Third party integration is where this type of product will likely thrive. As a standalone product and app the system is functional. More nuanced connection and control via other platforms is what extends the product to a wider audience though.
It’s a kind of symbiotic relationship too. Knowing that Appkettle and other modern equipment is supporting Alexa makes Amazon’s assistant more appealing. In turn, early Alexa adopters are likely to be hunting for new products to integrate.
Just as I was going to publish this review, an update for IFTTT has been rolled out. While I haven’t had the time to properly test everything, there are a number of applets available.
Some of these are simple timed events, others can take advantage of geolocation. For instance with everything on and connected, you can set Appkettle to turn on whenever you enter a certain geofenced area.
Two of the applets are also for connecting to Alexa and Google Home. Having activated them and granted the necessary permissions, it would seem that these greatly simplify the connection procedures to these assistants.
This is very much a niche product although I think the price point is just right. At a little over a £100 it’s not a pocket money purchase, which I think will attract the right kind of customer. By that I mean the kind of person who is already into their gadgets and willing to play with the system and watch it develop.
And you’ll have to be a gadget fan to ‘enjoy’ the Appkettle and work with its limitations. The best thing about it is further integration into other systems. The company has done well to finish their Alexa integration first, at a time when Amazon are making a big push on their system.
As the introductory work to IFTTT has literally just been completed too, it would seem Appkettle’s team is keen to support as many platforms as possible. This has simplified Alexa, and added Google Home, Hue and geo features. Getting Apple HomeKit certified would be an excellent future goal.
So can I recommend Appkettle? Yes, although that comes with the necessary caveats you’ve likely garnered from reading this far.
I think you need to be fully sold on the future of connected devices. While you don’t need any other connected equipment in your home, it’s a fair shout to say that if you’re still interested, then you probably already do.
As an example, let’s take Philips Hue lights, probably the most recognisable consumer connected brand right now.
If you’re the kind of person that bought some a while ago, but didn’t make them do anything other than glow white past the first two weeks, then this isn’t the kettle for you.
If however you still find yourself tinkering with custom scenarios and have delved into getting finer control with 3rd party apps… welcome to your new toy.
Appkettle User Manual
- Power: 2 – 2.4kW (UK / EU) / 220 – 240V / 50-60Hz
- Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n with WPA/WPA2 security
- Capacity: 1.7 litres / 57.5 US oz
- A11M5 Otter control unit
- CS75 Otter connector
- Temperature Units: ºC and ºF
- Volume Units: ml and fl oz – (reported in app only)
- Manual temperature selection on base and in app (60º – 100ºC)
- Volume control in app
- Brushed Stainless Steel, Chrome, Gloss PP, Glass.
- Removable stainless steel limescale filter
- LED display
- Glass window
- Wide Spout
- Water Level Gauge
- Boil Dry Protection
- Cordless to main base
- Mains cord storage in base
- Concealed element
- Keeps warm up to 30 minutes