The next frontier of hardware is in your kitchen. Drop hopes to be a part of that connected experience with a kitchen scale and an iPad app that uses Bluetooth technology to take you step-by-step through hundreds of curated recipes.
It’s an Irish invention that has been on pre-sale all summer long. It’s now available for purchase in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Europe for $99.95. That seems a bit pricey when compared to a regular, non-connected scales. You can find a bunch of them listed on Amazon ranging from a low $12 to $50 on the high-end.
The idea behind Drop is that you don’t have to measure anything. You just “drop” ingredients into a mixing bowl and the scale senses how much you’ve added by weight. The app shows you when to stop adding. It then should automatically move you on to the next step, without you ever needing to click your iPad with your gooey fingers.
This is pretty appealing for a few reasons. We use a series of cups and spoons to measure ingredients for our recipes in the States. This would theoretically save a lot of dishes and messy cleanup. Scales are also deemed more precise by many and are the preferred measuring device by professionals.
So I decided to give the Drop a whirl this weekend, starting with an apple pie. It’s something I’ve made before and it’s hard to screw up pie.
First off, be aware that the app will let you copy, but not send the ingredients list to your iPhone. There’s an iPhone app coming soon for that. For now you will need to lug your iPad to the store with you. That’s not really something I wanted to do so I took a picture with my phone instead.
As I mentioned, I’ve made apple pie before, so rather than go through the trouble of peeling, coring, and then slicing 8 Granny Smith’s, I decided to take a short cut with canned goods. This way, I reasoned, I would save a bunch of time and wouldn’t need to add the required sugar, either. Eight apples = two cans.
I had been told that the app would be able to substitute ingredients. Sadly, I found out, upon returning to the kitchen, that this feature was “coming soon.” Still, I had the cans and I thought “what could be the difference?” Turns out cans do not equal apples.
Something else you’ll need to know before starting is that the app measures most, but not all ingredients. It was good about telling me I’d reached peak cinnamon spice, but didn’t let me know when I’d added enough salt.
I ended up salting and salting, hoping the visuals would eventually come up and let me know I’d added enough. It never did. It did tell me to add a 1/4 tsp. salt, but I had assumed that the app would calculate the weight like it had with the cinnamon and flour I’d added before. My hands were messy from previously squeezing lemon juice and I now had to touch the screen to let the app know I was done salting. Also, I’d now added too much (which, surprisingly ended up making the pie pretty tasty).
The baking timer proved to be a bit confusing as well, at least for apple pie. Pie innards are softer and require a higher initial oven temperature. This particular recipe called for 15 minutes at 425 degrees fahrenheit and then asked for a reduced temperature at 350 degrees fahrenheit. However, it seemed to skip ahead, unprompted, and told me to lower the temperature before the 15 minutes were up. This step, plus the choice to use canned slices instead of fresh apples meant a doughy middle crust and a gooey (but still delicious) mess of a pie.
The basic idea behind Drop sounds great. The visual progression is helpful.It also adds in basic instructions such as how to slice and chop better. I’d definitely like to see a future kitchen full of connected devices like the Drop that measure and time everything in a more precise way. However, it needs to improve a few things before I’d fully integrate it into my own cooking routine. Right now, the visual measurements seem a bit gimmicky and don’t always work. Why would Drop measure the cinnamon but not the salt?
This could be a great tool for those who want a little more than just what a basic recipe book offers. It could possibly even foster a life-long love of cooking. And, to be fair, part of the pie screw up was based on my own corner-cutting.
Perhaps I should give it another try with a cake or cookie recipe, sans substitutions and see how it goes. Now knowing what the app can and can’t do and how it operates, I may be able to make a better dish. Though I’m personally not convinced it’s worth the $99.95 to do that.
Drop currently works with the iPad Air, iPad mini, and any iPad 3rd generation and up. The app will be available to download for free in the App Store. Android and iPhone are both coming soon.