After I got slightly obsessed with the idea of boiling my kettle from my bed, Smarter kindly let me borrow their brainy iKettle 2.0. Here’s the hot and steamy lowdown on what it’s really like living with the world’s smartest kettle…
Everything you need to know
- Android app needs improvement
- The luxury of remote-control boiling is seriously fun
- Connectivity can be a bit flaky
- It’s pricey for what it actually does
- This is a beautiful kettle
Putting WiFi inside a kettle sounds like a completely hair-brained idea that only mad people would come up with. Luckily, a UK company called Smarter is made up of those mad people, and so we have the pleasure of introducing the Smarter iKettle 2.0, equipped with an IoT brain for kitchen witchcraft beyond your wildest, wildest dreams.
So what does WiFi actually add to the simple process of pushing a button to make water boil?
The iKettle comes with a companion app for your phone (iOS and Android) that puts the power to boil up for a brew at your fingertips via WiFi wherever you are in the house. Basically, your phone becomes a remote control for your kettle. You can boil it the old and boring way by pushing the button on the kettle’s base too.
There’s a Wake Up mode for setting the kettle to boil ready for you in the morning, a customisable temperature gauge, a water level indicator, and even a Welcome Home feature that prompts the kettle to boil when you step through the front door. Yep, this kettle sees you coming.
The iKettle is £99.99, which is roughly £90 more than I have ever been prepared to pay for a kettle in my life, so it was going to have to work pretty hard to win my heart. Here’s what I made of the iKettle during one particularly caffeine-drunk week…
Setup and first impressions
As an impatient person who would rather risk mild electrocution than take the time to sit down and follow instructions closely, the iKettle was a dream to get up and running.
Once I plugged in the iKettle’s base, I saw the iKettle network pop up in the WiFi networks list on my phone pretty quickly. A few easy-to-follow steps later, which included placing the kettle on the side away from the stand to calibrate water level and linking the kettle’s network with my home WiFi, and I was set to take control.
I’d love to say that I then invited my friends over for a tea party to spread the joy of IoT drink-making, but I had work to do, so I did what any other woman in my position would have done. I had about 12 cups of English Breakfast tea all to myself in the space of 4 hours.What most impressed me in those first 4 hours was just how quickly the iKettle reacted to my commands. When I tapped that ‘boil’ button in the app, activation was instantaneous. And because I was sitting in the next room, I could hear the iKettle emit a little ‘peep’ as it began to heat up, which never failed to put a smile on my face. That sporadic joy could have also been because I was wired on tea leaves, though.
When the iKettle had boiled to the temperature I had set using the dial in the app, I got a notification telling me my water was ready. I did notice that the notification took a good few seconds to appear after I actually heard the kettle finish boiling, but that’s not exactly a deal-breaker.
As day one living with the iKettle drew to a close, there was no doubt I was falling for the art of connected boiling. But there was still a lot the iKettle hadn’t shown me, and I hadn’t even taken it on a mini-break yet (wish I was joking)…
The Wake Up test
While the iKettle’s instant boiling abilities never failed to amaze me, a couple of technical glitches as the week went by left me with some lukewarm feelings – particularly when it came to waking up.
On the first morning, I woke up to find there was no ready-boiled kettle for my brew, despite the fact I had set the Wake Up mode to boil at 7AM. Some trial and error helped me figure out that this was because I’d disabled notifications from Wake Up mode, which seemed completely illogical.The second morning, I woke up to find that the iKettle hadn’t boiled again, but for a much more worrying reason. The iKettle was disconnected. It had completely vanished from my networks list. I had to completely reset the iKettle and set it up all over again. To this day, I have no idea why that happened. I double-checked my WiFi router was definitely compatible with the iKettle, so I can only assume this was a one-off technical flaw.
It has to be said that after these initial hiccups, the Wake Up mode worked a treat for the rest of the week. And what’s more, In the (rare) event that I didn’t leap up straight away to go and concoct that all-important morning brew once my water was ready, I had the Keep Warm feature to fall back on, which lets you set a custom time for how long the iKettle keeps your water at your desired temperature. I opted for 30 minutes, which was more than ample on a couple of occasions when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed on time.
I don’t enjoy saying this – because I do really, really love this kettle – but Smarter’s app for managing the iKettle has some disappointing pitfalls. And the frustrating thing is that they are mainly because I’m on #TeamAndroid.
Firstly, there’s no Welcome Home feature for Android users whatsoever. The icon is there at the bottom of the screen ready to turn white when you activate the feature (as with the icon for Wake Up Mode), but there’s nowhere for you to turn it on. It’s as if that icon was solely put there to chastise me for not buying an iPhone. And as I don’t plan to get an iPhone in the near future, I will tragically never know what it’s like to be welcomed home by my kettle *cue violins*.
For the gateway to a £100 device, I just felt it lacked something special. It would have been nice to be able to save different temperature profiles to quickly access for my Early Grey, English Breakfast and peppermint tea needs. A drink-logging function wouldn’t go amiss either, which would definitely appeal to a grim fascination some people (myself included) have with pointlessly documenting the banal.
The water level indicator might have come in handy with more long-term use, but I didn’t find I needed to refer to it that often – mainly because I usually had a good idea of how much water was left in the kettle at any given time.
Caveats aside, the app fulfilled its main role of acting as a remote control for the iKettle incredibly well. The temperature dial is relatively easy to spin to your desired temperature, and also shows the real-time temperature of the water in the kettle, which was fun to watch get higher and higher as the kettle reached boiling point.
Eyeing up that body work
If I was one of those dreadful people who is inclined to describe gadgets as ‘sexy’, this would be the perfect occasion to pull it out of the bag of cringe. The iKettle is a sleek and shiny chrome upright affair, with a simple black handle that keeps things chic.
The only thing that gives away its inner IoT brain is a round button on the kettle’s base for manual boiling, with an LED ring that blinks and glows when the kettle’s in action.It’s a surprisingly big kettle, with enough space in its belly for 1.8 litres of water. So what’s that, about 12 cups of tea from one boil? I don’t know. As I had already crossed the line of what’s an appropriate amount of tea to drink in 4 hours, I wasn’t about to start bulk-brewing the stuff.
While it was nice having a giant smart kettle towering over my work surface like the high rise of kitchen gadgets, I wasn’t overly keen on how the iKettle felt in my hand. I found I had to put extra effort reaching my thumb over to press the lid’s button when I went to fill up at the tap, which might have also been because its straight, right-angled handle wasn’t all that easy and comfortable to grip.
It was all just a bit unwieldy – as if it had been designed by strong men with really big hands who drink their tea by the pint during their breaks from chopping wood and casually rescuing people from burning buildings.
Approximately 3,057 cups of tea later…
I’ve been sans the iKettle for a few days now, and I have to admit I miss it. I miss it so much. I got so used to one-tap boiling that the idea of going to boil my normal kettle manually now feels so ludicrously unfair that I can’t bring myself to put myself through it.
I actually got so attached to the iKettle that I took it with me when I visited my parents that week. It was a big hit with my mum, who downloaded the app so she could join in on the remote-control boiling and morning cuppas.Despite some of my caveats about the iKettle, I would urge anyone with that kind of spare cash to buy one – genuinely, I would. If you enjoy technology that brings luxury and convenience without forcing you to stare at a screen or tear yourself away from the real world, it’s right up your street.
For someone like me on a small budget, however, it’s a wildly outrageous price to pay for a kettle. It’s sad, but at least I have the wonderful memories of my week with the iKettle to treasure forever. Memories – and possibly also a nervous tick from tea withdrawal.
You can buy the Smarter iKettle for yourself – or for me – here.