Any tea drinker will know the experience. You wander into the kitchen to put the kettle on to make tea, wander back to the living-room or office and half an hour later realize you forgot all about it. So the second time you stand there waiting impatiently for it to boil. This is the problem the iKettle sets out to solve.
That, at least, is my excuse. The reality, of course, is that it’s a kettle with wifi – how could anyone reasonably expect me to resist … ?
In overall appearance, the iKettle doesn’t look too different from any modern kettle. It’s in the obligatory stainless steel, and has a powered base, leaving the kettle cordless. Even the temperature settings are becoming standard these days on higher-end kettles.
If you’re not a tea aficionado, boiling water (100C) is best for black teas, while 80C is recommended for white teas and 65C for green teas. 95C is best for coffee if you’re making in manually in a cafetiere.
The kettle can be used manually just like any other. Press the power button, which defaults to 100C, and then select a lower temperature if desired. If you want the kettle to keep the water hot after it’s reached the required temperature, press the left-hand ‘keep hot’ button.
iPhone app setup
Like WeMo devices, the iKettle generates its own wifi network for easy setup. You start by going into your iPhone’s Settings > Wi-Fi and look for the iKettle. Connect to this, then open the free iKettle app.
Once you do, the app prompts you to select your normal home wifi network and enter the password for access. The iKettle then connects to this.
I did find a couple of issues here. First, there was no sign of the iKettle network when I first plugged it in. The troubleshooting guide said to press and hold down the 65C button until two beeps were heard, and then power off and on again. This is the iKettle’s reset function and immediately did the trick.
Second, the app asks you to switch between the iKettle and home wifi networks, and it went into a little loop, repeatedly asking me to switch between the two. I force-quit the app and that solved it.
Once configured, you remain connected to your home network and the iKettle talks to that.
To switch the kettle on, you just touch the large power button in the main app screen. As with the physical control, it defaults to 100C.
Once the kettle has boiled, the kettle base bleeps and the iPhone app displays a notification.
For me personally, this works well enough. If I’m in the living room, I can hear the kettle beep, and if I’m in the office my iPhone is in a dock on my desk where I will easily notice any notifications. I do think the app ought to beep too, though.
Shortly after it has boiled, it will remind you to refill the kettle.
This guards against the one risk of a remote-controlled kettle: switching it on while it’s empty. This shouldn’t be a disaster if it does happen, as the kettle has a safety cut-out, and you’ll know that it’s happened because the power light will go out on the app, but it’s good to have the reminder.
If you’re not yet ready to go make the tea, you can hit the ‘keep hot’ button on the app and it will bring the water back up to temperature every 30 seconds or so. By default it will do this for up to 20 minutes, though you can configure this time to be anywhere from 5 to 20 mins.
The green screen shown above doesn’t have any significance, by the way – the app allows you to choose the background colour and I switched it to green from the grey default.
If you want a lower temperature, just touch the temperature you want after switching it on.
Once you’ve poured the water over your tea leaves or bag, you can optionally press the timer button and it will alert you once it’s brewed. The default brewing time is two minutes, but this can be changed in the settings.
The app’s settings page is reached by touching the menu button, top-right, which gives you access to two automated functions.
The first is a wake-up function, to replace your alarm-clock. The app will wake you at your chosen time, and offer to put the kettle on for you. (No, I don’t get up at 11.15am, this was just the time I tested it!)
A fairly major complaint here is that the app offers a choice of only three alarm sounds. The first – entitled Buzzer – is like those horrible alarm-clocks from years ago, and the other two are slightly less offensive but still pretty unpleasant. I’d prefer the option here to choose system sounds.
You can also set the app to offer to switch on the kettle as you arrive home. In the settings, you just set your current location when you’re at home and it will detect when you return there. If you don’t want false alerts when nipping in and out, you can specify your arrival times and it will only operate between these times. As I work from home, I wouldn’t normally need this function, so I tested it by setting the times for when I returned after a night out.
The first thing to say is that $170/£100 is a fair chunk of change to pay for a kettle. But it seems less unreasonable when you consider that a decent stainless steel variable-temperature kettle will typically cost you $50-100, and a WeMo wifi-controlled plug socket another $50. What you’re getting is something somewhat more expensive but neater and more fully-functioned.
As someone who works from home and loves tea, the iKettle is perfect. I’m usually too impatient or busy to stand in the kitchen and wait for the kettle to boil, so I usually put it on, return to the office and promptly forget all about it. With the iKettle, I simply hit the button on the app from the comfort of my desk and carry on working until it tells me it’s ready. If I’m free to go pour the tea immediately, I do so; if not, I touch the ‘keep hot’ button and go back to the kitchen when I have a moment.
At this price, it’s definitely a luxury item, but one that no tea-drinking gadget lover should be without.
iKettle is available for $168.95/£99.99 from Firebox.