Tuesday 11 June 2019

Candy clothes dryer and "Smart Touch" phone app

This post starts with the failure of an old trusty workhorse. Our old Hotpoint dryer finally gave up on us after more than 12 years doing it's job. Several replacement parts (thermal cut-out and heater element) but otherwise it did a great job.

So we were in the market for a new one, and buying a lot from AO I went with one of their "Exclusive" Candy products, with the catchy name "Candy Grand'O Vita CSVV9LG 9Kg Vented Tumble Dryer - White - C Rated". It claimed a decent 9kg load size, vented (Our previous was condensing, but as this was going in the garage I'd just fit a vent) and energy C rated (As we seem to eat energy in this house!).

The biggest attraction though came in the features:

"Sensors work out the perfect drying time"
"Monitor & add new drying cycles from your smartphone"
"Time to End of Programme - YES"

This sounded great, since the dryer was in the garage we never knew when it was done and had to keep going and checking on it, resetting it, etc (the old one).

Reading the blurb it sounded ideal:
"This model also has a Smart Touch feature, which lets you monitor the drying and even download new programmes using your smartphone."

Cool, so for the gadget family like ours, being able to remotely talk to it, check the drying state and set it sounded good to us.
So it arrived, on-time as usual from AO (I have to recommend them and their deliveries, they are on time, ring you before, let you track their delivery, etc, which is pretty good) and we got it all setup.

We then followed the instructions to download the app "Candy simply-Fi" and went through the setup. It was when it asked me to place my NFC enabled phone beside the dryer over a special panel I started to realise something. It doesn't use WIFI, it doesn't have a CAT5 socket... It used NFC to talk to your phone.

NFC (Near Field Communication) of course works up to around 10cm away, so this is the problem, it will ONLY talk to your phone, if you and your phone are stood in front of it, holding the phone against it.... Not exactly what we expected at all.
This seems to be common, as searching in the Google Play store at comments for the app, it's the same over and over again, pointless as you need to be in front of the machine, needs to be in front of the machine to work, can't see the point since you're stood in front of it you can SEE what it's doing.

So all in all, there seems to be a con when it comes to the wording. There are TWO products from Candy:
Smart Fi
Smart Fi+
See the subtle difference? The one with the + means WIFI equipped products, without the + it means NFC only.
I started searching and discovered that practically NO dryer (regardless of manufacturer) has WiFI equipped (Some heat pump dryers do, but they are almost 2-3 times the price and heat pump isn't a technology I wanted as seems very long drying times).

So the lesson of the day? Don't believe what they tell you (I should have learnt this by now), the "Smart" tech is STILL lacking in most appliances, despite it being such a simple thing to implement (I say simple, as I can buy a wifi equipped Arduino device for around £10 retail that could do exactly what I wanted if I could interface it to the appliance).

I'm unsure whether to raise this with AO.com as they aren't really doing anything wrong here, other than perhaps not clarifying some of the details on their product pages, we certainly don't think it's sufficient to return the product, especially as there isn't an alternative that would fit what we'd expected.
So for now I suspect we live with it, and potentially look into my retro-fitting of technology onto it, perhaps by using an Arduino and NFC board on the machine, see if I can read the NFC data it gives/do a handshake and get the information out of it, thereby converting it to a wifi enabled dryer!