Manufacturers spent 2016 creating and upgrading immersion circulators -- a column-shaped machine that controls the temperature of your sous vide water bath. The Joule (left) and the Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi (right) both come with built-in Wi-Fi so you can control the machines from your smartphone. Both machines are $200, which is roughly £130 in the UK and AU$275 in Australia.
A start-up called Nomiku upgraded their sous vide immersion circulator this year. The new version, which costs $249 (about £200 or AU$340), has Wi-Fi and connects to an app that provides user-submitted sous vide recipes.
Speaking of sous vide, the $300 FirstBuild Paragon Induction Cooktop (about £240 or AU$415) is a countertop system that lets you do just that thanks to an induction burner and Bluetooth-connected temperature probe that can heat and maintain a steady water bath temperature. You can also use the Paragon to fry, slow cook or sauté.
The $1,300 Thermomix TM5 is a new player in the American small appliances game (it's available in the UK for £925 and Australia for about AU$2,090). This multicooker can handle a dozen common kitchen tasks, such as blending, grinding and whisking.
One of the most ambitious kitchen appliances we saw in 2016 was the $1,495 June Intelligent Oven (about £1,200 or AU$2,000, though it's currently US-only). This countertop oven has a built-in camera, a smartphone-like processor and software that work together to recognize food you put in the oven and cook it automatically.
We got to see the Tovala Smart Oven at this year's Smart Kitchen Summit. Its creators say this yet-to-be-released appliance will scan barcodes on meals the company sends you and cook the food accordingly.
At the Smart Kitchen Summit, we also got a peek at a Keurig for flatbread called the Flatev. More than 660 people pledged nearly $136,200 during the product's fully funded Kickstarter campaign. The single-serve tortilla maker's creators estimate that the Flatev will cost between $400 and $600 when it becomes available for purchase in 2017 -- and that doesn't even include the price of the dough pods you have to buy.
The Juicero is a Wi-Fi-enabled countertop appliance that cold-presses proprietary packs of fruit and vegetables into individual drinks. It sounds like a good idea for juice lovers (little clean up, fresh juice) until you get to the price: $699 for the machine (roughly £565 or AU$965) and $7 to $10 each for those fruit and veggie packs (£5.65 to £8.07/AU$9.65-13.78).
It's like a grown-up Easy-Bake Oven, and Kickstarter backers were all over it. The Chip Smart Cookie Oven is a Wi-Fi-connected countertop appliance that its designers say will bake as many as four perfect cookies in less than 10 minutes. The company behind the oven estimates that it will cost $249 (roughly £200 in the UK or AU$325).
In 2016, large appliances began in earnest to partner with smart-home platforms and products. The $5,300 Jenn-Air JJW380DP double wall oven (about £4,280/AU$7305), for example, works with the Nest Learning Thermostat.
The $2,000 GE PHB920SJSS induction range (£1,615/AU$2,760) is one of the GE appliances that works with Alexa and the Geneva Skill. I could tell Alexa to tell Geneva to preheat the oven and ask for updates about the oven's temperature. But you can't control the oven's cooktop or broiler, and you have to use specific wording when you give verbal commands.
Partnerships with Alexa, Amazon's digital voice-controlled assistant, continued to grow this year. For example, GE Appliances and Amazon debuted a new Skill called Geneva. You can give Alexa voice commands that will control GE's Wi-Fi connected appliances, which include refrigerators, ovens, ranges, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and hot water heaters in GE's Monogram, Café and Profile product lines.
The smarts on the Opal Nugget Ice maker weren't too outstanding -- you can link the device to your phone or tablet (via Bluetooth) and control it using a mobile app. But it's those pellets of chewable ice that might make you consider plunking down $500 (£405/AU$609) for the machine.
This year also brought us a refrigerator worthy of its "smart" label. The Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator has a 21.5-inch built-in touchscreen with its own apps, ingredient-tracking fridge-cams and a $5,600 price tag (£4,520/AU$7,720)
It's not available yet, but the $180 Goat Story Gina coffee maker (£146, AU$235 equivalent) sounds promising. The device's creators say the brewer can make coffee via pour over, cold brew or full immersion coffee. The Gina also has a built-in scale, Bluetooth wireless radio and phone connectivity so you connect to your coffee.