Our kitchens are becoming smarter by the minute and now there are a whole raft of handy gadgets complete with all the bells and whistles on the market. But what’s better than one clever appliance? Two clever appliances? Three?
The latest developments in connected technology mean that now a whole hub system of compatible appliances and the ability to control them is, quite literally, at your fingertips. From a single app you can control all your main appliances, from popping on the next load of laundry while on the way home from work to seeing what’s in the fridge when you're upstairs in the bath.
Read this: Chill out it's our smart fridge buying guide
The idea is to make all those household chores that need doing every day easier, quicker and in some cases even more energy efficient. We’re looking at those companies that are innovating in connected kitchen appliances to see who’s offering what…
Bosch & Siemens
BSH Group’s Home Connect technology covers the essentials of any smart kitchen. Focusing on its Siemens and Bosch brands, the range of Wi-Fi-enabled appliances can work together to make cooking and cleaning in the kitchen much more convenient.
Download the free Home Connect app (available on Android and iOS devices) to be able to control compatible appliances which include fridge-freezers, dishwashers, ovens, washing machines, tumble dryers and a coffee machine.
The app is based on a multi-brand platform so both Bosch and Siemens models can be controlled from a single app for ease of use. Not only does it give you control of the functionality, the experience can also be expanded to access to recipes, advice on how to use the products, notifications and technical support should anything go wrong.
The Bosch CTL636ES6 coffee machine is a nifty bit of kit for coffee lovers. We particularly appreciate the CoffeePlaylist feature where you can enter several beverage types into the app and the machine will start to prepare them one after the other – perfect for when everyone wants something different.
Steve Macdonald, marketing director of freestanding for Hoover Candy UK, explains: “Here at Hoover we were the first to launch a complete range of fully connected kitchen appliances in the UK back in 2015. The initial collection, which allowed remote control of appliances, compromised a fridge-freezer, oven, hob, hood, washing machine and dishwasher. Since then, each and every Hoover connected appliance, from cooking appliances to vacuum cleaners, can be monitored or controlled by the Hoover Wizard app.”
The Hoover Wizard app – which is for UK customers only and available on Android 4.0 and later and iOS 7 or later – allows users to keep an eye on the energy consumption of their devices, access programmes, view the current status of programmes while out and about and receive alerts.
One of the most interesting products that benefits from Wi-Fi connectivity is the Hoover Vision oven. Featuring a big touchscreen display on the door, it has an in-cavity camera that streams images to your phone or tablet, so no matter where you are in the house you can keep an eye on dinner and make sure it doesn't burn. Or you could get on with another cooking task and livestream TV onto the screen on the door for entertainment while you work.
Samsung's set-up requires you to add one more step into the process of creating a smart home but once you have everything set up you can control a huge range of their products, from lighting and cameras to its connected kitchen appliances.
First off you need SmartThings, which is the main hub that all the other Samsung (and non Samsung) devices to talk to each other. Next up is to add the devices that you want, and with that then comes setting up the SmartThings app (available on Android 4.1 or later and iOS 9 or later) and/or voice controls.
Just looking at the kitchen there are a good selection of innovative appliances that work with SmartThings covering refrigeration, laundry and cooking, which can all be monitored and controlled from the app on your phone.
Newly unveiled at this year’s EuroCucina show in Milan was the Dual Cook Flex oven which has Wi-Fi capabilities and a compatible app, allowing more control and flexibility over the cooking. This includes being able to preheat the oven even when you're not at home, as well as adjust temperature and timings so that you can get on with other tasks. Also of interest is the upgraded Family Hub 3.0 smart fridge with Bixby voice control so you can have something that resembles a conversation with your fridge and use it to control other tech.
South Korean brand LG is playing catch up in the connectivity game with its SmartThinQ technology. The app (available on Android or iOS) gives you the ability to control a range of fridge-freezers, ovens, dishwashers, laundry appliances and even robot vacuums for a smart home that tackles all those pesky chores.
It doesn't all need to be done at the push of a button however, as the appliances also work with voice activation through the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. At this year's CES, LG showcased new kitchen products like the InstaView ThinQ refrigerator with built-in AI and a list of cool features as long as your arm.
Sleek 29-inch LCD display that changes to a window in two knocks? Check. Recipes recommended to you based on what’s inside the fridge? Check. Access to streaming music services for listening to tunes while you cook? You know it’s a check.
While the brand is aiming to enhance the consumer experience now, it’s also prepping for the kitchen even further into the future as well as all LG appliances with SmartThinQ tech are built on an open platform and will work with the latest devices "for years to come".
Whirlpool's smart kitchen suite depends on where you live - in the US this includes hooking up smart washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, wall ovens, range ovens, microwaves and refrigerators all under its 6th Sense platform. Devices like the Smart Front Control Range have Alexa voice controls (for setting and adjusting temperature as well as timing and cooking mode) and its smart fridge works with Alexa so that you can tell it to turn on Party Mode to make ice.
Elsewhere, in countries like the UK, Whirlpool is focusing more heavily on the laundry market right now, so it you want to have a full smart kitchen set-up then this isn't yet available. Both Whirlpool's Supreme Care Live washing machine and matching dryer can be activated via the 6th Sense Live app (for both Android and iOS). The app acts as an enhanced interface and gives you access to a range of benefits, one of which is being able to stop and start wash programmes no matter where you are, as well as changing settings and checking on progress as well.
Another handy feature with these models is Ecomonitor, which helps to ensure that the machine is running in the most energy efficient way possible, which is great for those eco-conscious among us. When it comes to connectivity it’s not just us communicating with our appliances – the appliances also communicate with each other. Through the 6th Sense app the washing machine’s current programme information is sent to the dryer so that the correct drying cycle can be chosen for the best possible garment care. Clever.