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Smart Home

Bosch teaches its appliances new tricks at IFA

Bosch will expand its Home Connect app launched last year to smarten up fridges, washing machines, dryers, and coffee machines.

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Bosch's app can now let you check on your groceries from the store, and give you advice about which washing machine cycle is right for your clothes. These clever new add-ons come as part of a revamped lineup of connected appliances that will work with the company's existing Home Connect app for iOS and Android. Right now, you can use the app to control certain Bosch ovens and dishwashers. Soon, the same app will let you check on your fridge contents with that camera, control your washing machine and dryer and get advice on which cycle to use, and even select coffee recipes from around the world and make them automatically.

Announced today at IFA -- Berlin's annual electronics and appliance trade show -- Bosch's expanded Home Connect app will allow you to turn any of your compatible appliances on or off remotely. You'll also be able to receive push notifications at the end of a cycle, choose your cycle via the app, and again, for both washing machines and dishwashers, you can even use the app to get advice on which cycle to select.

One happy connected family

Bosch isn't the only company to offer connected appliances. We liked GE's Brillion app when we tested it on the GE Profile Double-Wall Oven . We thought LG's ThinQ app less successful, but it still offers remote controls and notifications, similar to Bosch.

The Home Connect app hit the Apple store in December of last year, and became available for Android users this July. From the start, the app was meant to control large appliances from a variety of different manufacturers, and launched with an open platform to that end. More than a year after it was initially announced, no other major appliance manufacturer has jumped on board with Home Connect, but at least Bosch is now pushing the app to the rest of its own appliance lineup.

Cycle select

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The cycle select feature on the dishwashers and washing machines could be particularly helpful, though it might be more work than it's worth if you have to enter everything you're washing into the app before you can make a selection. Neither the washing machine or the dishwasher can sense what you've put in them on their own, so expect to add time to your routine if you want to take advantage of this feature and are used to just throwing everything in and running the default cycle.

A camera in a fridge

I'm most excited to try out the camera in the new connected fridges. It's a clever, simple solution to smarten up inventory management by simply allowing you to see what you have from anywhere. The camera will take a snapshot each time the fridge door opens and closes, giving you a picture to examine if you're in the grocery store and trying to remember if you have enough milk for the week.

I'm not quite sure how the angle will work in order to allow you to see everything. Camera placement and field of view will be pivotal to making this add-on successful, and even if both are optimized, I doubt a single point of view will be able to capture every spot in the fridge. Most likely, the feature will be somewhat helpful to see if you have big items like milk jugs, but I doubt you'll be able to see into the drawers or corners, so you'll still want to remember your list.

International coffee-making prowess

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Finally, Bosch's fully automatic coffee machine will offer the ability to select from international recipes such as the "Australian Flat White" or the Spanish "Cafe Cortado" via its "Coffee World" system. Both examples combine espresso with steamed milk, but use different amounts and textures of heated dairy. Flat Whites are larger beverages known for velvety smoothness. Cortado drinks, on the other hand, are smaller and call for a bit more froth, so it'll be interesting to see how the machine adapts to each recipe. Get everything set, and you'll be able to save favorite settings, and receive push notifications to remind you when it's time to clean.

Outlook

Right now, you can only take advantage of Bosch's Home Connect app if you live in Germany or Austria and have specific Series 8 ovens or dishwashers. Soon, Bosch says it will expand both the number and types of smart appliances it offers, along with where they are offered. Again, Bosch's plan is to make its app the only one you need to manage large appliances in your home. A full lineup of options with some exciting features will help that goal.

For more of the best of IFA 2015, see CNET's complete coverage.

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