What is the Appkettle?
A kettle. That can be turned on by an app.
Okay, there’s slightly more to it than that. With its ability to remotely heat water to any temperature 60-100°C, this wifi appliance brings a digital twist to that simplest of human endeavours: boiling water.
At the touch of a tablet or phone – or simple voice command, if you have an Amazon Echo – you can boil up to 1.7L from the comfort of your sofa/train/anywhere where you can connect to the web. Or, if your net goes down, you can go old school and turn the kettle on manually by pressing a button on the device.
What does it look like?
With its brushed stainless steel body, small heat resistance lid, a glass water window and LED display, this well-built kettle certainly emits a sci-fi vibe.
And if at first you thought the kettle itself lies on top of what looks like a set of sleek digital scales, you’d be right: the chunky base of the appliance detects the weight of the kettle so you can always remotely check how much water is ready to boil. This sensor also stops the device from turning on without any liquid inside, preventing any kitchen disasters.
So what can it do?
Turning on a kettle remotely may sound like it’ll only shave off a minute or two off your day, but in reality, it adds up to a lot more. For instance, have you developed an unhealthily lengthy relationship to your alarm's snooze button? Well, boiling the kettle from your bed each morning takes no effort and the prospect of an impending cup of joe acts as a perfect incentive to pull off the duvet. You can even schedule the kettle to go off at a set time each morning (just make sure you fill it up the night before).
And even if you are only saving minutes, they’re always vital ones – especially when watching TV. Once you see that black and white advert warning ticker at the top of the screen, go to the app, set the kettle on and your brew will definitely be ready before the break is over. No more desperate shouts of “it’s back on!” to the kitchen.
Yet the app isn't only a simple on/off button. The easy-to-navigate software shows you how much water is in the kettle, how many cups it can make (you can adjust this to any mug or baby bottle size), its temperature, how much energy you’re using and, very handily, a timer for exactly how long it’ll take to boil.
The Appkettle also comes with a ‘share’ feature, which allows you to easily post in your home/office group WhatsApp asking who wants a mug. No problem if somebody’s late to reply – the “keep warm” feature allows you to – you guessed it – keep the water warm. It can hold the temperature for up to 30 minutes so you won’t have to reboil.
And head’s up herbal brew buffs: the app also allows you to warm water to the perfect temperature for chamomile, mint or any other tea you have in your cupboard. Don’t worry if you’re not sure which heat to aim for – all is explained in the Appkettle’s concise user manual. You don’t even have to remember which temperature is right for what cuppa – all your custom tea profiles can be stored in the app.
But the Appkettle’s real joy comes without the app when you've synced the device with your Amazon Alexa. After the minute-long install time, you can boil water for your tea, coffee or Pot Noodles (we’re not judging) with a few words. What a time to be alive.
What are the issues to look out for?
There is one key problem that we need to let off some steam about: you know that heat resistant lid? Not all heat resistant. Touch anything outside the small black area on the Appkettle's cap and it can get warm. And that can be problematic as you’re normally re-filling the kettle just after boiling (it’s the best way you know there’ll be enough water to remotely turn it on next time). Careful fingers will solve this quibble, but we can’t help feel the Appkettle should have come with one of those nifty lids that open at the press of a button.
Plus, although the Appkettle is easily integrated with your Amazon Echo, its functionality is very limited: you can only turn the kettle on and off via a voice command. And although that’s all you might need, you can’t ask how much water the kettle contains or the estimated boil time. Alexa won’t even alert you when the kettle has finished its job, meaning you have to listen out for the three annoyingly loud beeps emitted from the device.
But – and this is a big but – it’s a developing product. The app and smart home integration software is regularly updated, meaning this issue hopefully won’t be one in a few months time. For instance, AppKettle has stated that they want Alexa to announce when the kettle is boiled, but until later this year, Amazon’s device won't allow its apps (skills, we should say) to speak to you without a command.
So what’s the verdict?
If you're working towards a fully-functioning smart home, the Appkettle is a big step in the right direction. However childish it is to say it’s a thrill to turn on the kettle with your voice, we have to admit it’s a trick that has you feeling smug every time. Sure, the kettle won’t actually make the tea and bring it you with a hobnob on the side, but you’ll still feel like you have access to Iron Man's JARVIS. (Just be sure to shake that feeling and give the kettle your full attention when taking off that hot lid).
And if you don’t own an Alexa yet then you’ll still get a good use out of the product, providing you haven’t left your phone or tablet in the other room.
Yes, it's a very pricey kettle, but it’s worth the investment if you’re a hot drinks fan who would it several times each and every day. Which, unless you’ve just spent a few minutes reading this review on a whim, you definitely are.