Are there any areas of your life which are not being changed due to technology? For me, the most mundane areas of my life have suddenly become easier to manage. For example, getting up to turn on a lamp used to be annoying, but now I can just use the Wemo app and turn the lamp on.
With technology moving away from the office and into all parts of our homes, areas previously unaltered with technology are becoming increasingly exciting as technology can aid in mundane task. Checking the temperature of meat can become mundane when cooking for an extended period of time. A good grill or smoker can and should be able to maintain its temperature without much fuss from the cooker, but I am not comfortable yet to leave my grill temperature unchecked for hours. In recent years there has been an improvement and innovation with wireless thermometers but these require the griller to carry around an extra item to check the temperature.
To aid in improving grilling enjoyment the iGrill wants to make grilling or smoking meat easier. By using the iGrill device you can connect your iOS device through Bluetooth and remotely monitor the temperature of your meat or grill￼. While time is a helpful gauge on whether a piece of meat is ready, I am never as confident with that first cut unless I have stuck a temperature probe into the meat. The iGrill is a unique idea but what about the execution? Is it reliable enough to forgo all visual temperature checks during those long cooks? Let’s dive in and see if this device really makes grilling an easier experience.
First, it is important to the note the app will not work unless it can connect to the iGrill hardware. At the time of writing, the device cost $79.99 and can be purchased from the Apple Store or the iGrill website. There are two color options which are black and white. In the package you will find set up instructions, two temperature probes, and four double AA batteries. Each of the probes included are for food and will not accurately measure your grill dome temperature — although, on their website, ambient temperature probes are available for purchase which will measure the inside temperature of your grill. The device can also use two probes at the same time. Using two different probes allows you to keep an eye on the meat and the ambient temperature of the grill or the temperature of two different meats at the same time.
The iGrill is not just for use outdoors but can work in the kitchen as well. Placing the probe into meat inside the kitchen oven is fully supported.
To keep the device juiced up will require four double AA batteries. Of course, your length of use will determine the amount of temperature measuring time you receive from these batteries. Unfortunately there is no option to plug the device into an outlet for power which would make me comfortable using the device on all day cooks.
The iGrill device will show temperature of each probes on the device and you can even set cook alarms right on the device, meaning the device can be used as a traditional thermometer when not using the app. These cook alarms will sync to the app as well if you decide to start monitoring the temperature through the iGrill app. The device has a plus and minus button on the front of the device to create these alarms and navigate between probe temperature settings. The only other button on the device is the power button. The biggest problem I saw when setting up the device is following the included instructions, as they are very vague when first trying to setup the device or use the device without the iOS app.
When launching the iGrill app, an option to play an instructional video is given. Watch it! It explains how to use the device without the iOS app.
Set It And Forget It
To use the app you will need to connect to the device through Bluetooth. After connecting the device and launching the app, you should see a notification saying the iGrill device is connected. Setup is done once you are connected to the device, and now you are ready to cook. The main view of the app is a split screen between the probe listing and the tool options. As previously mentioned, up to two probes can be used and displayed within the app. Each probe can be renamed to the specific meat or ambient probe if so desired.
The iGrill app has a menu with appropriate temperatures for the selected meat you are cooking. These temperatures agree to the well done temperature for each respective meat. A custom temperature can be entered when selecting the meat if you would prefer your meat less than well done. Now all you have to do is wait for the push notification letting you know your food is ready.
In the tool options are several features including timers, graphs, info, globe, and recipes. The two features that I found most useful are the graphs and globe options. Under graphs you can see the temperature measured by time and temperature. The graph presents a trend line for the length of your cook which can give insight on those long cooks showing how long it took to reach respective temperatures.
The globe is a way to see other iGrill users and what they are cooking. Pins are placed at approximately the users location (not exact location, which keeps hungry stalkers at bay) when a picture of their cook is shared from the app to Facebook or Twitter. It can be fun to see what other people are cooking around the same time as your cook.
Improvements Are Needed
The concept of the iGrill device is unique and the device works well, although there have been some hiccups with dropped connections when cooking and when switching between devices. Since the iGrill works with Bluetooth connectivity, it is easy to understand that sometimes you might want to use the device with your iPhone and sometimes with your iPad. Unfortunately switching between devices can be a nightmare.
When first receiving your unit, iGrill suggest reseting your Bluetooth connections saved in the device by holding down the plus and minus button and then pressing the power button until a long steady beep is heard. This is also recommended when switching between iOS devices.
Even when performing the Bluetooth reset option, relinking your device through Bluetooth fails some of the time and it is probably more of a hassle than it is worth. The best advice would be to think about which device you like to use the iGrill app on most often and try to stick with it.
Another complaint is the app also includes ads for the other devices created by iDevices. These ads are not visible in the app all of the time but will drop down into view every few minutes you are in the app. Personally I found this annoying on principle. I feel with an $80 investment in this device, I have more than paid for the right to not see an ad.
The iGrill concept is a welcome addition to monitor my food cooking temperature indoors and out. The implementation of using the device with the companion iGrill app made cooking more enjoyable by not having to go outside and check the temperature of my food nearly as much. It also helped me keep my grill dome closed for the whole cook since I did not have to keep visual tabs on the meat which kept the temperature consistent over the whole cook.
Overall the design of the iGrill works but it is not going to win any design awards and some of the functionality of the tools should be better implemented such as expanding the recipes tool. I believe iGrill will have a promising future, especially as connection bugs get squished, and for me I enjoy remotely monitoring the temperature of my food. Does remotely monitoring the temperature of your food sound useful to you? Let us know in the comments below!