June Intelligent Oven (2018) review: A fun kitchen tool for the age of Instagram

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MSRP: $599.00

The Good The second generation of the June Intelligent Oven can recognize more foods than its predecessor thanks to a built-in camera and smartphone-like software. The Wi-Fi-connected countertop appliance also has more cooking programs and opportunities to tweak settings to get your food exactly how you like it. At $499, the new June is much cheaper than the original. And it cooks food well, be it cookies or chicken.

The Bad The June stumbles with toast. The oven has a tendency to slightly undercook foods, though it's easy to add more cook time. And all the tweaks you can make to cooking programs means that cooking becomes more hands-on than you'd expect with a smart countertop oven.

The Bottom Line The June Intelligent Oven would make a fun and useful addition to your kitchen, especially as the company continues to update the oven's software.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Usability 8
  • Performance 7

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When people learn that I review cooking gadgets for a living, they usually ask when there'll be an appliance that can do all the cooking for us. We're not quite at the level where we can pop a pill into a device, press a few buttons and receive a whole meal, but the June Intelligent Oven attempts to put us closer to more automated cooking. 

This countertop oven first came out in 2016 and boasted a bunch of features we hadn't seen on cooking appliances: a built-in camera that could livestream and record your meal as it cooks, a smartphone-like internal processor and software that could recognize foods that you put into the oven. When I first reviewed the June Intelligent Oven, I liked the food recognition feature and its overall cooking performance, but the $1,495 price and mediocre handling of simple foods like toast and Pop-Tarts kept me from giving this promising appliance a resounding recommendation. 

Two years later, June's creators have released the second-generation oven. The latest June oven is nearly identical in appearance and is as easy to use as its predecessor. There are some notable differences in this new June: it's a lot cheaper at $499, software updates have enabled the June to take on more cooking tasks and recognize more foods, and the oven gives you more opportunities to customize the June's automated cooking programs. And June now has an Amazon Alexa app, so you can use voice commands to control the oven if you have an Alexa-enabled smart speaker. 

Smart home innovation aside, the June cooks food well, whether it's reheating leftovers, following a recipe in the June app (available for iOS and Android) or following a cooking program. And it's just plain fun to use.

Some of June's pesky problems still persist with this new model, specifically its issues with toasting bread. And the oven often erred on the side of caution during its automated cook programs, which would leave foods slightly undercooked with an option to add more cooking time. And even though I enjoyed more room to customize how the June cooked dishes, it meant that I had to be more hands-on with a device that's biggest draw is automation.

The second-generation June is an improvement over the original, and its lower price makes it easier for me to recommend. The June could meet the needs of many types of cooks, from the novice who wants to press a few buttons and get a decent meal without much thought, to the eager home chef who's mastered meal prep but needs help with execution. And admit it: It would be cool to put time-lapse videos of your meals on Instagram. 

How the June Intelligent Oven works

The June is roughly the size of a microwave or toaster oven.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The June Intelligent Oven is similar in looks to a toaster oven. It occupies about 1 cubic foot of space, which is large enough to hold a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. The touchscreen control panel is located on the oven door. The June contains six carbon-fiber heating elements and two convection fans built into the back wall. The oven and its included components, including a baking tray and crumb catcher, are easy to wipe clean.

You can use the June like you would a normal oven and cook foods in the following ways:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Roast
  • Air fry
  • Slow cook
  • Dehydrate
  • Toast
  • Keep warm

The June is Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can connect it to your home network. Once you've downloaded the June app, the oven can then send you push notifications when your food is almost done and when it's complete. You can also watch a livestream of your dish through the app and send that footage to whomever you want. 

One of my favorite features of the app is the recipe selection. Each recipe, which is designed specifically for the June, features videos of each step and picture of the ingredients and tools you'll need. 

The real draw of the June is its automated cooking programs. With these programs, you can select which food you want to cook, and the June will use information from the cloud to access how to cook the dish and then do so automatically. That means you don't have to pull out a recipe for baked chicken thighs -- you can just scroll through the control panel's menu, find the chicken thighs option, and June will set the temperature and cook time for you. 

There are about 100 different programs to cook dishes from asparagus to waffles. Depending on what you're cooking, the oven might prompt you to insert an included food thermometer into your food, so it can track the internal temperature of your dish and know when to stop cooking.

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