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I think my BBQ just offered to be my default browser? (twitter.com/kaydo)
649 points by Kroeler on May 22, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 246 comments

I used to visit the iGrill website every couple of days and stress test my product there during development.

I worked for Ai Squared on an app named Sitecues, which was a SaaS product that companies would add to their website to improve their accessibility for low vision users. We ran into a vast number of edge cases when trying to make our JavaScript library compatible with all of our customers' websites, many of whom had awful coding that we needed to handle gracefully (hacky CSS, old versions of Prototype JS that override Object.prototype, and far, far worse). One day I stumbled upon the iGrill website and found out that it exposed practically every problem that we had seen scattered across various other sites. It was so convenient that their website was so poorly coded that I could stress test our app on their site and if it worked, well, "ship it!"

Looks like their site has had a few updates since then, but those were good times.

How'd the company turned out? I'm pretty interested in accessible web dev and have toyed with the idea of working on profiling tools, or maybe something to show abled users just how shitty their site is to use with various access tools.

Ai Squared was great and that was my favorite job. The company had been around for a while, with a rich history, and they made good products. Particularly Sitecues, the division I worked in, had a good culture and product, which was designed to modernize the company. We took our time to get the implementation right and management supported us. Unfortunately, Sitecues had been burning through the rest of the company's revenue. Right as we were starting to scale and get customers left and right, some of the financial backers decided to sell to a private equity firm. A few months later, days before Christmas, they laid off everyone at Sitecues except for me and effectively shut it down. I was kept on just to keep the servers running for a few more months, probably to fulfill some contractual obligations. It was a disaster. Other parts of the company were outsourced or merged into other companies, including Freedom Scientific, which had long been "the enemy". They renamed the combined organization to VFO, and later renamed again to Vispero. Now they focus on profiting off of accessibility related lawsuits, which Sitecues had aimed to prevent. It's disgusting. I would avoid doing business with Vispero or any of their subsidiaries. The Sitecues source code is public on GitHub now, though, since someone stopped paying the bills.

There's enough accessibility guidance and testing tools in the world, especially now that Deque have added premium features to AXE. The problem is product teams/squads not actually using the guidance and tools available to create fully accessible user experiences, the root causes of which are many.

Good'ol archive.org to the rescue.

For those curious about the technical details here, here's a dump of the iGrill Android manifest (it's not XML because Android APKs contain a binary manifest): https://pastebin.com/fwbJ9TjD

It looks like this is the culprit:

    E: activity (line=48)
        A: android:theme(0x01010000)=@0x7f110149
        A: android:name(0x01010003)="com.weber.igrill.pages.splash.SplashActivity" (Raw: "com.weber.igrill.pages.splash.SplashActivity")
        A: android:screenOrientation(0x0101001e)=(type 0x10)0x1
        E: intent-filter (line=52)
          E: action (line=53)
            A: android:name(0x01010003)="android.intent.action.VIEW" (Raw: "android.intent.action.VIEW")
          E: category (line=55)
            A: android:name(0x01010003)="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE" (Raw: "android.intent.category.BROWSABLE")
          E: data (line=57)
            A: android:scheme(0x01010027)="http" (Raw: "http")
This registers an intent filter for all HTTP (but not HTTPS) URLs. I would expect it to require a DEFAULT category though, not sure what happens when that's left out.

Does anyone else feel that editing these manifest files is like filling out tax forms?

I personally can't blame them for getting this wrong if the development tools don't provide adequate feedback.

It would be nicer if the tooling was better, but at the same time:

1. Everyone else can apparently do it properly. 2. They could have caught this problem in testing.

It's just a case of a non-software company adding on an app as an afterthought.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they just outsourced the app development to the lowest bidder.

Rainbird's app similarly registers intent filters for PDF, HTTP, and a few other things.

Is there more to this data tag ? There is usually a host tag following scheme or did developers just forgot it ?

Precisely the issue! They probably intended to add host (and perhaps path) to filter for a specific website, but didn't finish the job for some reason.

Android is such a drag sometimes. Between mystery quirks like this, where I'm sure someone who has been making Android apps for 6 years will be able to explain it, and things like the absolute inability to override the order of items in the sharing panel[1], such that Android will routinely topline sharing to a contact you got one text message from three years ago.

"F.U., that's why" is the simplest conclusion I can draw. "Unpaid concept testing" is the next simplest.

1. https://cdn57.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/0...

> the absolute inability to override the order of items in the sharing panel

As an extra F.U., it also changes the list of contacts after a second. So I try to tap on my wife, only to have it substituted with the plumber who came once half a year ago... and this of course gets logged by the AI, ensuring the plumber continues to hold pride of place in my contacts.

This is quite literally my least favorite UI feature that Android has ever released.

It's slow. It encourages mis-taps. I have intentionally tapped it literally <10 times ever despite using the share dialog thousands of times, since it almost never shows me the desired contacts, and even then I've tapped the wrong contact half the time.

It's incomprehensibly awful, wantonly violates even the most basic user-interaction guidelines of the past few decades, and there's no way to turn it off. What in the world are they thinking / drinking.

I don't even understand what this feature is supposed to be. All I know is that the share screen _used to_ work really well! It used to show my most frequently contacted friends / family across applications (eg. Whatsapp vs Hangouts vs email) and it was a breeze to share content. Now... It shows the correct contacts for ~1 second, enough time for my brain to think oh maybe I should try and oh nevermind it's gone.

iOS actually isn’t much better here. Occasionally I’ll see something on Apple News that I want to share with friends who don’t use Apple News. I just want a web link. But despite Safari being literally the only icon I’ve ever tapped on to share something from Apple News, I have to hit the “...” and then scroll to find Safari buried in the list. I have to scroll past Strava despite (as far as I’m aware) Strava not even being able to open the link and me never having used it to open the link.

You can change the order of share items.

When you are in the “...” screen, tap on “edit” at the top right.

This is what OP complained about is not possible on Android out of the box.

iPhone has the same issue in something simple as recent contacts / phone dialer screen. I end up clicking the last dialed number that gets replaced on top of last-but-one by the time my finger moves to tap what appears as last-number, which was really the last-but-one, but the history wasn’t updated then.

My least favorite android UI feature is the "clear all" option on the list of notifications. Every time I use it, they randomly show up again hours or even days later.

That's a bug/feature of the application(s) offering the event. They get an intent informing then that the notification was dismissed. Well-behaved apps should not repeat the same notification later on, but many seem to do when an additional notification comes in. :-(

Thanks, that makes sense, but also makes it even more annoying when default Android apps behave that way. :|

Is there an agreed upon name for this, where a website or app loads elements piecemeal so we click the wrong thing by mistake?

I know it exists as an intentional dark pattern (so we just think that's what happened). But it also seems so common now across computing and it pisses me off every time.

Laggy loading of items into a tappable target area is begging to be called the “slow poke” pattern

In my opinion, Windows search is the absolute most infuriating example of this, compounded by how slow it is. Let's name it so we can shame it

Just yesterday I tried to type "Network and sharing center". Apparently it does not exist in the index which is quite annoying, I have to click through the control panel (after accidentally ending up on a web search). Windows 10 is an odd beast with multiple generations of UIs all nestled away.

My only explanation is that the Windows 10 search rewrite metadata was outsourced to a team that didn't actually know how Windows works.

It seems like they stripped all metadata, including visual names of items themselves, and instead substituted random words.

The result is like playing a text-based adventure game without a list of the verbs the game supports.

Per memory, 7 and even 98 had a perfectly reasonable and accurate search.

Yes! For example, opening Visual Studio Code:

If I type VS... Visual Studio Code! Cool. (wonder why it did not suggest Visual Studio itself which I also have installed, buy hey I got what I wanted)

If I type VSC... ??? config files and some random XMLs from the deep realms of AppData

If I type vscode... No results, try a web search!

If I type Visual Studio... THE Visual Studio shows, but no Code in sight

If I type Visual Studio Code... There it is again!


The whole rigmarole is just... Huh?! How does one even reach that point? I can't think about any naive buggy way that could reasonably cause such discrepancy of results. Just search by Filename and Display Name! Or whatever criteria, but be consistent!

When I start typing "solidworks" it alternates (with lag) between the Solidworks core software and Solidworks Explorer. I only get the right one ~half the time, since it seems like it will open the one that would have loaded rather than the one that is at the top of the list when you hit enter.

I definitely feel there's some poor-UX lazy loading of results.

But literally mystified why there isn't a prebuilt index table that instantly loads the top results.

All Windows apps / panels + last 250 files opened shouldn't be hard.

Trying to get to the network devies page is equally infuriating- it's under network adapters and options in Control Panel, and may or may not actually be accessible from the new Settings app- I don't remember.

Even better, try setting the dead zones on an XInput game pad. Off the top of my head, it goes something like: “Settings” > “Bluetooth and other devices” > “Printers and other devices“ > Right click your game pad > “Gamepad Settings” > select your gamepad > “Ok” > “Deadzones”

The really sad thing is that Windows has multiple accessibility layers for every visual control (e.g. Active Accessibility).

So there is literally already a textual, and usually interpretable, path to any window.

Apparently tying search into that made too much sense though, and so instead we get a reinvented (slightly square) wheel.

Win+R -> ncpa.cpl

How could I have forgotten?

Runs fine for me. Are you using a SSD or a hard drive?

I want to know this too. Another example is Google search. If you search, click on a search result and then go back then a panel slowly appears below that link. So if you are going to click the next link, it interferes with that.

Someone once told me this is called being "matador-ed" because it's just like pulling the cape away from the charging bull.

I love that term and the Android share dialog has always been my top example.

"reflow" or "layout jank" are ones I've seen a fair number of times (not sure if "jank" was intended as "stuttering" or "unreliable", but both work if you go for the feeling)

I've heard "jank" in speedrunning used to mean "badly-implemented interaction logic that makes the timing for a reflex action non-deterministic / non-learnable", which fits perfectly here.

A dark pattern is intentional, most of the stuff I'm talking about seems to be from ignorance or indifference.

Asynchronous element loading saves time overall but it costs time when key UI elements rearrange. It's probably difficult to pull off but linear/blocked/sequential loading for the current viewport and offscreen asynchronous loading is probably what we need to avoid this (or ugly placeholders).

Google prioritizes time to first draw. Do they prioritize time before the page is completely loaded? I don’t know the answer but if they’re going to stay in the business of ranking pages on speed, they should be putting that as a higher priority for their rankings. Too many times I’m reading the content and yet the browser is still loading... something. What? I have no idea.

Three Card Monte?

I find this happens with computer game UIs a lot, too, especially for dynamic UI elements that float above static UI elements. Especially when there is a lag due to animations.

This happens with Google Chrome address bar suggestions on Android too. Drives me nuts every time.

The Chrome reload gesture also gets in the way sometimes. It's especially infuriating when there's a link you want to click on the page (that's still loading), but additional content causes the content to scroll down as you're tapping the screen so Chrome misinterprets this as you wanting a page reload.

"Progressive enhancement" came to mind with an /s subtext on the side.

But then I thought of: "Percusssive enhancement". Maybe not semantically 100%, but... not 0%.

Google recently started doing this. I literally never click google ads, and today about four times I've click on ads because the thing I want is result #1 but just as I'm about to click three ads load in and I click the first ad.

Wild guess: it's a bug but it looked good in A/B testing. The change was supposed to increase ad click rates and it did. Job well done, ship it!

I swear I've had images and videos switch places as I'm clicking on the search results tab.

Or maybe I have 15 years of expectation that images is going to be the second tab.

Edit: nope, just did a search, it started web images videos then right when the page finished loading it switched to web videos images

So only does search not work anymore, it's unnavigable

Edit 2: it's not just video, it rearranges the tabs based on relevance. "John wick" will move videos to the second spot. "San Francisco" will move news second and maps 3rd.

I get it, but I also don't.


A product manager somewhere in Google is excited for their quarterly bonus.

I just clicked on google ads 3 times in 2 minutes because it keeps showing image search results. Then juuuuust as you're about to click the row of ads shows up and you click on an ad.

The AI then congratulates itself on serving such relevant ads.

Not only does it enable mistaps, the speed each time is inconsistent. The order each time is inconsistent. I never know what app or person will be high up on the list

> and this of course gets logged by the AI

@9nGQluzmnq3M don't mean to mock you. It more that it sparked a general observation that seems to be the case now dasy . It is how 'funny' it is that now days we tend to all a lot of stuff AI. Back in the days pre-internet days, this is just some kind of preferences we stored per user bases. I can see that the IT industry is a lot of what is in fashion.

I don't think the two are the same thing. I can't speak for everyone, but when I talk about AI in the context I'm talking about opaque systems with no obvious connection between my action and its response.

The sorts of things phones used to remember I'd never refer to as AI. A list of contacts sorted by the frequency with which I use them isn't AI. A list of contacts sorted in an order I don't understand, with a slight preference for frequent contacts, is.

The latter have proliferated recently, hence the shift.

The real difference is where it gets stored.

Clearly, you want your list of "frequently searched terms" stored locally on your device in a very small and efficient history file.

However, if you store this file on the server, you can hide from the user what actually gets stored in it, it takes longer so it seems like it's doing harder work, and for some reason gets it wrong occasionally which means -- AI.

Google Maps is like this. It completely refuses to remember your recently searched addresses if you disable Location History (which includes remembering and storing, let's call it a little bit more info than just my recent search terms).

This would be such a prime candidate for storing securely, privately on your device, for any type of map service, that I can only conclude this is deliberate hostile anti-user programming.

Also I bet there's code out there that just returns most-recently-searched with a few deliberate mistakes to seem more opaque and thus more AIey.

No, the difference I'm drawing is between straightforward and opaque responses to input.

I'm sure there are companies which play the various games you're suggesting, but I think positing that it's the rule verges into the conspiracy theoretical.

> when I talk about AI in the context I'm talking about opaque systems with no obvious connection between my action and its response.

For sure, with all the type of Neural Structured Learning, seems like we are just trying things out by training models. Would be good to have a way to actually explain to us developers how decisions are actually made. I know it is based on some kind of statistics.

If anyone can point in the direction that would be greatly appreciated.

Just because the preferences have got worse because of the AI doesn't mean they are no longer "preferences".

I actually don't call either of them preferences. Preferences are something I set, not something the phone decides for me.

It's an "AI" in the sense that it's an uncontrollable, unknowable black box that's clearly trying to be "smart" (artificially intelligent).

It's definitely not sorted by contact frequency or anything close to it, because many of the people I share with all the time never show up. As I type, three of my "top" 4 (including that plumber) are SMS, which is doubly weird since I almost exclusively use WhatsApp.

It's doing something else than the most logical deterministic assumption, so clearly it must be trying to be "smart" ?

How often does a badly implemented algorithm that should in theory just work, get labeled AI because in practice it returns opaque results occasionally?

I just fucked this up today. I didn't do anything bad, but apparently some apps share by default when selected?

This has been bugging me as well for years. Only found an app called Sharedr recently which replaces the sharing dialog. It's not perfect and has a limitation with sharing files, but it's a million times better than the default option.

Not sure if the same issue, but Android 9 takes a second to load your contacts from apps. Want to send a link through SMS? Tap Share, and Messaging is at the top row. But if you hesitate for a second, your Whatsapp contacts will load in and suddenly you're sending a link to someone that shouldn't get it.

This is so weird. I don't use messaging, just Whatsapp. My experience is the polar opposite--it shows my Whatsapp contacts whom I actually want to share with for a second, and then replaces them with messaging contacts.

It's like they know what our intent is, and intentionally replace what we want with what we don't want.

> the absolute inability to override the order of items in the sharing panel[1]

that's funny because on iOS you seemingly can override the order, but the behavior of that between different apps (and/or content types?) is so undeterministic that people just give up.

I swear there's some AI going on here. I've noticed that suggestions in my share panel differ depending on content, location, and other things.

Or maybe it's just really undeterministic. :)

Any sufficiently unadvanced AI is indistinguishable from a random number generator.

...that uses a seed randomly pulled from a list of four seeds based on something that doesn’t have an even distribution.

We really should use a clever term like AAI,

artificial ... artificial intelligence.

(not to be confused with humans)

If you're thinking of the inconsistency of the suggested contacts, it is based on content, source app, etc. For pictures, there's even analysis of picture contents. All on device. Unfortunately, there's no way to remove someone from being suggested, except to delete your message thread with them.

> Or maybe it's just really undeterministic. :)

Never attribute to AI that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

There is

Thank you for pointing that out. I often share things with my girlfriend and never share things with my landlord, but android share deems it necessary to show my landlord as the top level person to share with and my girlfriend nowhere to be found.

For some reason, one of my top contacts on my iPhone is always this one awful customer I had sometime last year. Forget that I've talked to dozens of other people since, apparently a couple of emails to this insufferable dbag means I want to send him pictures of kittens and memes all the time.

The one thing iOS does get right is being able to order my apps in the share dialog however I want and it always respects that. I fucking hate using my android phone because I'm 100% sure it's meant to torture you.

I think the share menu uses concurrency to query available share targets (querying their names and icons), so whichever target responds first, gets put in the list first. Which is indeed very dumb, because the user gets a randomized list everytime s/he wants to share something.

I'm using Fliktu https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oakstar.fl... to override the share menu, it works in most apps (some apps use an internal share menu), and you can also trigger it by shaking the phone after copying something into the clipboard. AFAIK it sorts the share targets by "last used".

Another option is Sharedr https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rejh.share...

Personally, until something open source is available, I'll stick with NeoLinker on my unrooted (no firewall) phone. It uses the built-in share share menu, but has the advantage of being able to share to itself to rotate between share, open with, search for, etc. If you're interested, it's available on Fdroid (and probably the play store as well?)

I confess I switch to Android from iPhone as a single issue voter - I just wanted to put files on and off it without the OS getting in the way.

These days though I think iPhone is a little better at that, and Android gets in the way all the time ("Camera has crashed, please restart your phone" - somehow, restarting all apps that may have interacted with the camera works too Android, why don't you clean up after yourself so I don't miss nice photo opportunities).

“Camera has crashed” is very likely model/manufacturer dependant.

That said, having to evaluate different models to get something reliable is a pain (currently I would only buy either Pixel or Nokia).

Yeah I figured as much. Moto G5 Plus if anyone cares.

However, if it carries the Android brand I think it's fair to put some of the blame on Google. Atari learned that lesson in the early 1980s.

Yeah, I'm also a single-issue Android user (have used Dvorak for nearly 20 years now, no interest in using/learning the iOS QWERTY keyboard), and if anyone asks me, I'm hard-pressed to recommend an Android device over an iOS device.

You can use Dvorak on iOS. One example (but not the only example): https://apps.apple.com/us/app/dvorak-colemak-keyboards/id940...

Yeah, I've tried, but third-party keyboard apps on iOS definitely feel second-tier, and iOS will revert to the stock keyboard app for certain things, and it's just too jarring to get punted to QWERTY whenever I need to enter my phone password.

With face-id and password vaults, I never need to enter passwords :D

"Passwords" in general aren't a problem, they don't revert the keyboard to the "wrong" layout - it's only the iOS system password that does this. It's not a daily occurrence, but you still need to enter the device password with the "wrong" layout every time you restart your device, when you go 48 hours without unlocking your device, when you have too many unsuccessful Face ID/Touch ID attempts.

It's not a big issue normally, but how would you feel, if, as a QWERTY user, you were punted to a Dvorak keyboard to enter your password every time you restarted/updated your phone?

My wife and I both use DVORAK, but so many computers are QWERTY that I can use both now without thinking.

I knew I had them both down when I could tell people verbally how to enter text on our DVORAK machine by telling them the QWERTY equivalent without looking.

I've never been cool with people using my keyboard or with using other people's keyboards. One of my personal silver linings from COVID is that this should generally no longer be acceptable outside of family units.

It will be interesting if this type of previously acceptable behavior will be driven away by fear, even if the fear turns out to be unwarranted and potentially counter productive.

I.e. assume the trends continue, and COVID spread is confirmed to happen 99% of the time by respiratory droplets (touch being an ineffective transfer mechanism). Also, data on ultra-clean environments point to harmful effects on the human immune system.

Story from colleague: New intern doesn’t shake hands on introduction, but subsequently continues to work shoulder to shoulder in doors for hours learning equipment.

I’m indifferent to the handshaking, but it will be humorous to me if it has absolutely nothing to do with covid and it goes away. (kind of like rental car companies, some airlines, air bnb etc. that may all be destroyed by fear).

This is a bug in the app, I don't see how it is Android's fault.

This is a Play Store curation failure _as well as_ a bug in the app.

This sort of fault shouldn't have been allowed to pass.

It's funny how the chrome store has skewed so far the opposite direction (kicking out extensions that claim they need http://*), but any Android app can claim they're a http:// handler.

well it is a pretty transparent use case : the app declares it can respond to any http intent.

The user has to agree to use that app to open http links.

Sure Google could kick this dev butt and ask them to use a more focused intent filter but that's way less of an issue than an extension siphoning all your web browsing.

The Play Store is a disasterous shit show; I don't trust apps on it at all.

tl;dr: what bug, or even what kind of bug?

"The app" does not provide the share intent panel functionality, the framework does, and even if there was some way in which an app could be thought to be to blame, with what permission would it be inserting its resources in a particular spot in the panel?

The app declared itself to be a web browser so the OS asked the user if they wanted to use this new browser.

Yeah, the top suggestion for me to share content with is my boss's boss, whom I've directly emailed about three times in the 1.5 years I've worked at this place.

Android’s complete user hostility is the best argument against GNU/Linux not being a popular desktop OS because it’s not “user friendly” enough.

Android is polished but user hostile. Linux is just unpolished.

While we are piling on, Android's autocorrect is absolute shite. It won't suggest or correct for misspelled words that are obviously one letter off, and then replace correctly spelled words like "the" because it knows better than you. It's not smart enough to get that you typed.period instead of space and correct it. It's as if the devs that work on it don't even use it.

IOS Autocorrect does all of the same shit. It's always been baffling to me that no autocorrect seems to be designed around the type of errors you're likely to actually make on a phone keyboard. Mistype the first letter? Nope, never gonna catch that. Being able to recognize simple prefix and suffix constructions on the fly would be nice too. If I put "re" or "pre" before any valid word, it should recognize what I'm going for.


It's part of the keyboard. Just use another.

Recommendation for one that doesn't slurp your data and has great autocomplete?

Fleksy has an amazing algorithm and is gratis nowadays. I'm not user what the developers are doing because the thing is feature complete and they keep on announcing weird additions, bit those are always opt optional so not all bad. Here's their official page where they advertise their app to government officials due to their privacy standards: https://www.fleksy.com/government

I'm not sure about the former, but SwiftKey is great. Owned by microsoft though so might still be slurping your data.

I dunno what's going on with you and some of the other child commenter's phones but my share panel is only people I text every day and always has been.

Also, the share panel is configurable:


Can confirm this works, I just tried it.

I run stock Android on a Pixel phone and the default people in my share area are people I haven't communicated with in years. I hate it so much. They're in my contacts in case they ever reach out, but by no means is it the last people I texted or anything close to that.

You can pins apps (second row), but not contacts (first row).

This Trick Works With:

Android 7.0 through Android 9

I run Android 10 on a (Google) Pixel 3a.

It's back on Android 11 I believe.

More examples here:


I have now switched to a iPhone XR, and while it has its own issues it manages to get its suggestions right some times at least (no, I don't need directions home from the store 1000 m away, but at least it isn't completely out of touch like Android.

"things like the absolute inability to override the order of items in the sharing panel"

You can replace the share provider app with something else like https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rejh.share....

Sure, but why does the default share menu shuffle everything every time I open it?

Yes Google cannot be not doing that on purpose. The worst part for me is that it never shows a contact that I text daily and instead shows me contacts that I only contacted once a long time ago....

Android share is pretty sad.

It used to be miles ahead of iOS but it has been pretty stagnant and for a while has shipped with an implementation that would ask at share time which apps can respond (Which explains why populating the share menu was pretty slow for several android versions)

that's not why

> "Unpaid concept testing" is the next simplest.

Shutup and eat your dogfood like a good consumer ; )

Oh, it's not just me.

With all the sites with CPU intensive Javascript, my phone gets hot enough that sometimes I feel my browser wants to be my default BBQ.

What a crock of shit that grills are now IoT devices. The less of my life that’s accessible on the Internet, the better.

I saw from another thread that this is actually for the temperature of a meat thermometer, that you can constantly monitor and without having to open the grill (which is undesirable).

So actually not a crock of shit, and pretty useful if you're grilling/smoking over long periods of time before/during a big party or something. Not all grilling is quick searing.

Sometimes new features aren't just gimmicks, you know?

What are the chances that it's also sending the temperature over the Internet to be logged by some server in the cloud, so they can gather usage metrics and other analytics? This is literally "telemetry" in the original engineering sense, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it did.

On a lighter note, Weber does sound like a good name for a web browser.

I get that privacy is important, but I'm struggling to understand why I'm supposed to care about a company logging data on the temperature of the beef I'm cooking. If they want to badly enough to secretly add telemetry code and not tell me? Great, have fun. Enjoy. I'll not lose any sleep over it.

In other words - the backlash over excessive data storage and retention is very much good thing, but let's be careful to try keep things in perspective a bit. Otherwise we run the risk of people not taking us seriously when it actually matters.

> I get that privacy is important, but I'm struggling to understand why I'm supposed to care about a company logging data on the temperature of the beef I'm cooking. If they want to badly enough to secretly add telemetry code and not tell me? Great, have fun. Enjoy. I'll not lose any sleep over it.

as we learn time and time again with this kind of thing, the scary things don't come from the data and metrics that they want, the scary things come as a form of collateral damage that occurs when the company does whatever they have to do in order to harvest the metrics that they're interested in.

Here's a devils' advocate leap that isn't too far from the realities of IoT devices: Company X's telemetry function is broken, allowing arbitrary remote code execution. The IoT device receives a command that causes property or personal damage -- or it becomes a node in a much larger destructive network.

These things happen when features get packed in faster than the security can follow.

Yeah, yeah, the Weber product is just a thermometer. It can still be a node in a malicious network, given attacker incentive.

This is a poor example -- it's an interface that accepted and expected inputs -- but I think it serves as a good example of IoT doing security wrong.


An example: I decided to build a simple temperature monitor to see what I could do about energy use. Simply put, it's the easiest way to tell when the heating system is kicking in and for how long when you're dealing with decades old technology. What I discovered was interesting. In addition to telling me the expected, it showed things like: when I went to bed at night, when I got up in the morning, and even when I got up in the middle of the night and for how long. The times weren't exact, but it provided pretty good estimates for an indirect measurement using a very crude instrument.

Now imagine what could be inferred from your meat grilling data.

I am not saying that that people go around doing nefarious things with your meat grilling data. In fact, there is a very good chance that it is not even being collected. Yet we live in a world that is hungry for data of virtually any type and in any form, which makes both data collection and nefariousness a possibility when that data is being handled by an Internet connected device. Personally, I find that possibility creepy - even if no harm is being done.

Would you feel comfortable with a health insurance company buying that dataset and charging higher premiums for those who habitually undercook their meat?

They cannot charge you more for being morbidly obese, or riding motorcycles, out preexisting conditions, or anything at all but maybe smoking, so I’m not too worried about doneness.

Or who eat meat "too often".

I guess grilling vegetables is off the table, then?

The problem is that if the majority of people who use grill thermometers are using it for meat (probably true), and the health insurance's actuarial tables show that eating meat is associated with higher payouts, your premiums will go up. This isn'tat court of law. Even if you really did use it for grilling vegetables they won't care. As long as they're right in aggregate they'll continue doing it.

Why would you want them to know this? Do you not think of privacy as being a desirable default in your life? You might be thinking of just some random logs getting stored somewhere, but I think of a person being able to access those logs. Do you want me, Joe Schmoe, to be looking over your shoulder every time you grill? You might not notice, but surely you'd be creeped out to learn that some guy has been peeping through binoculars at your thermometer whenever you're in the backyard. It's not just the temperature data either - it's the fact that they know what you're physically doing at a certain time and location.

My grill spying on me strikes me as being equal parts unintentional self-satire, and terrifying dystopia.

Everyone in this thread is debating lid vs meat vs "do we need this at all?" when the problem I have when I cook on a (gas) grill is that half the grill is cold and the other half is a raging inferno and I can't understand why. Seems to me like I need multiple thermometers to figure out why there is such uneven cooking. Ironically, I have a much easier time cooking on wood / charcoal.

To address your problem, check the size of the flames on your gas lines first. Those do rust, and it may just help to give it a few knocks and clean the ports with a wire brush.

Some of your valves may be stuck, resulting in low output. Check all areas for rust, and clean it out if it's evident.

Gas grills are too often engineered for low cost builds. They rust easily, and require regular maintenance.

Good luck!

Someone I know bought an inexpensive Bluetooth thermometer controller with support for 6 probes, so you may be able to find what you want.

I just bought some GrillGrates that supposedly help with that. Good reviews, but I haven't yet tried them out.


a guage. On the bbq lid. No, i can't check it while i sit inside, this is true, there is, however a very good argument that says, maybe i shouldn't actually be inside while the bbq is on though.

There's a barbecue recipe guy I like, big proponent of leave-in thermometers (the kind with leads that snake outside the barbecue). He likes to say that the in-lid thermometers are just fine, provided you're planning to eat the lid.

I still probably wouldn't use an IoT one, though.

It’s quite amazing how wrong those lid thermometers can be - I ruined my first brisket trying to use the lid thermometer and then bought a Thermoworks Smoke (the kind with the two wires like you describe, where you stick one reader in the meat and the other goes laying on the floor of the smoker). When the Thermoworks thermometer read 250F the lid thermometer read 400F.

Why would an IOT thermometer be any better than one that just has a readout on the lid?

I understand that if the thermometer is on th lid and not actually measuring the meat it's crap, but if it's measuring the same way as the IOT version, then the readout is fine on the lid.

Because you plug it into a thermocouple device that you poke inside the middle of your roast, which is a completely different temperature than the air in the grill. This is an addon Bluetooth thermometer Option for Weber grills - I have a Weber but didn’t get this option.

I think the others are missing your point a bit.

I use an IoT thermometer so that I can monitor smoking progress over 13 or so hours and still do things like go to the hardware store.

Placement. Either you want a probe thermometer measuring the internal temperature of the meat or an air temperature probe on the indirect side of grill. The gauge on the grill is likely to be off 50-100 degrees F. They're often cheaply made and not as high quality as something like a probe themometer from Thermoworks, or presumably this Weber device.

i'm gonna level with you here, i've never eaten meat in my life, so am out of my comfort zone here, but i can't help but feel from reading this that the HN crowd have a propensity for over-engineering that is coming to the fore here.

Fire, knives and an apron with a pithy slogan - c'mon, how hard can it be?

A business built to sell grill gadgets to the HN crowd sounds like a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Anyhow, folks who are serious about preparing smoked brisket, ribs, etc., are very particular about the temperature of both the air/smoke and the food. Two thermometers and maybe a computer-controlled fan or damper are not far outside the norm.

> A business built to sell grill gadgets to the HN crowd sounds like a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Haha, gadget as in IoT crap, maybe, but we're for-sure the market for: aeropress, sous-vide devices (yes some do them DIY but...), dedicated pizza ovens, and so on. You got a gadget to prepare food or drinks that already have other ways to prepare them, HN's not a crazy place to market it. Bonus if it's "sciency" or can be described as more "authentic".

But of course we're not like the stupid plebs falling for those silly devices we don't like.

(mind, I'm far from immune to this, so I'm not just casting stones at others—oh I am getting one of those pizza ovens at some point. That's happening.)

Heh. I mean only that HN'ers are too fussy to sell to. People do indeed love gadgets and other vehicles to try to fill the void. Why is why I intend to build a domed brick and clay bread/pizza oven in the backyard when time and knowledge permit...

You have not the experience to even make that claim in a valid way. Being snarky doesn't compensate or hide your ignorance of the topic.

It's ok to not know something about a topic and not disingenuously comment about it.

Perhaps think of it like the way people perform agriculture now, and even on the garden scale.

Sure, you could go with a standard soil composition and add water on a schedule, then harvest when it feels best.

Or, you think of it as a system with inputs and outputs. If you can observe the system and manipulate the variables (soil composition analysis, moisture measurements, temperature control and sunlight optimization, etc) accordingly, then your yield can improve dramatically.

Any nursery sells a multitude of tools to measure and manipulate those variables, and farms are a whole other beast of systems design.

It's much the same with cooking meat. Control the variables, improve the result.

How do you know when someone’s a vegetarian? Just wait, he’ll tell you.

Harder than you think if you want good results. BBQ is the hardest form of cooking I’ve encountered and I’ve tried most things.

It's not an HN thing. Cooking meat well is actually tricky.

Cooking meat well is easy, just throw it in until it looks and chews like shoe leather. Cooking meat properly on the otherhand.

Jokes aside, cooking meat properly should almost always have a leave in thermometer for anything that isn't being seared.

Remote temperature monitors are often used for low and slow smoking that lasts for 10+ hours. There are many smokeboxes designed to be used unattended, a great deal of them have pellet driven hopper systems to keep delivering fuel so there's consistent heat and smoke.

Personally, I wouldn't use an app for this and instead just use a remote sensor and dedicated monitor, but I don't fault anyone for using an app.

I switched from a pretty sweet thermoworks probe with remote reader to an app and the app is so much better. It’s cleaner and easier, doesn’t require an extra device in my pocket, and lets me manage the temperature on the smoker.

Others have pointed out that this is meat temp, not grill temp.

But even if it were grill temp the gauge on the BBQ lid is more of a guide than an actual temperature. They are highly inaccurate, more like "cold, warm, hot" than "400 degrees".

For most stuff just dialing in the temp comparatively is fine, so the grill gauge works. You know you want to grill your steak when the thing reads 600 degrees, and your chicken at 400. But those temps are certainly not remotely accurate.

For some other things (e.g. BBQ/smokers/etc.) getting exact temps correct is key. In those cases you'll require something much more accurate than the grill gauge even just to measure grill temp. Having something wireless is pretty handy in this case, so you can watch a movie in the basement and check on your meat temps without walking upstairs every 15 minutes.

The temperature gauge on the lid is a terrible judge of what the actual air temperature is inside your grill. It's often low quality and not in a proper placement for your indirect heat. Depending on placement, it can be off by more than 100 degrees F

I didn’t realize people used it for anything but checking if the grill was on and if it was safe to put the cover back on.

Not the grill temp... the meat temp.

Connecting the thermometer to a gauge could support either grill or meat the same way a (now-too-many-moving-parts) iot device would.

A meat gauge connected to the thermometer on the lid then.

This whole attitude to cooking is also weird. Cooking is in large part experimenting, seeing what works and what doesn't, learning and iterating. Sometimes the results will be bad, often they'll be sub-optimal but the variance is part of what makes it and we lose something by trying to turn it into an exact science. If you want something precisely timed and always the same I suggest McDonalds.

> If you want something precisely timed and always the same I suggest McDonalds.

Actually, if you want something precisely timed and always the same I suggest a Michelin-starred restaurant.

If you've ever eaten at McDonald's you'd know the quality control, well, leaves a lot to be desired.

Your comment tells me you don't really know anything about cooking at all.

Using a meat thermometer (leave-in probe or instant) is a fantastic element of modern cooking, and a huge advancement in food safety. I can't imagine cooking without it. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy experimenting - but it does mean my chicken doesn't dry out or come out undercooked.

> No, i can't check it while i sit inside, this is true, there is, however a very good argument that says, maybe i shouldn't actually be inside while the bbq is on though.

This is an awesome feature for a smoker, which needs fairly consistent temperature for like 10-14hrs.

You haven’t even scratched the surface of the bbq world if it’s not including a things that require an overnight cook (brisket).

Yes that's useful but it its too bad you need an entire app for the BBQ. If it could push that info on your your home's info bus along with the other IoT stuff then you would just need one app for all.

Which you almost certainly can do with Home Assistant

I don't have one of these grills, but I'm willing to bet that you cannot monitor the grill temperature without a connection to the Internet. Because even though it's trivial to set up a wifi LAN-only connection, Internet-of-shit products never, ever work that way.

why does that need to get sent to Utah and back, though? Why not a good old radio signal to a nearby device that displays the temperature?

It's easier to do it over the internet with all the HTTP-oriented infrastructure we have nowadays. If I were the developer and just want it done quickly and reliably, I'd do a central server thingy as well.

So that when the manufacturer goes out of business (or decides that continued support isn’t profitable) it becomes a paperweight.

I'd be fairly confident that Weber will be in business selling grills 5 years from now. Still supporting some little Bluetooth gadget experiment, on the other hand...

This isn't IoT, it's bluetooth, and works fine without an internet connection.

Why does the thermometer require an embedded WebView? Couldn't they, you know, use a View?

What ever happened with just placing a gauge on the outside? It sure would be cheaper.

No, it's awesome. If you're slow cooking some meat for 9 hours you need a constant low temperature. It connects to the app on your phone and you can set thresholds to alert on. You can connect multiple probes, so you can monitor the temperature of the grill as well as the temperature of the meat, all without having to open the grill which compromises the temperature. Makes slow cooking (the best kind) infinitely easier.

My brother has one, sticks a roast in the weber, his iPhone goes ding when it's up to temperature while he's watching tv. It's a great thing.

Lan accessible devices can be amazing. Automatic on and off of various devices and removal of crap proprietary controllers and apps has made many things much better. Home Assistant running in Docker on a Synology 918 is easily the best tech I have every bought.

> Automatic on and off of various devices and removal of crap proprietary controllers and apps has made many things much better

Off-hand I'd think for things like a grill I'd want this to be handled at the power strip level. Normally a grill, like a weber grill, is just a piece of metal and will last until you wear it out (even then it's mostly the flimsy legs that fail). If you add internet connectivity, the expected lifetime value of a product goes way down: failing hardware, services that get shut down, protocols that stop working as expected.

Meanwhile at the power strip level, you can both monitor and enforce energy usage, something that's beneficial even if you remove the ability to control it remotely (and why would you!?). I'd imagine for most things but maybe my computer and media setup I'd prefer to be able to simply cut the power to ensure it's not running.

EDIT: Apparently this is a meat thermometer!

This is a meat thermometer with Bluetooth. It neither breaks your grill if it ever stops being supported nor does it talk directly to the internet (although the app might of course. but Bluetooth typically can be reverse engineered)

Ahh, this definitely is a missing part—"Weber iGrill" does not conjure to mind a meat thermometer unless I put my marketing glasses on!

Oh, if it's bluetooth only that's not terrible, but why then their app registers http://* intent?

The annoying thing is that I can’t ever seem to find power strips with individually addressable outlets.

Not even being picky and sticking with an open protocol like ptpp but any kind of internet controllable power strip. All I can find are single outlets at ~$25 a piece.

I have had good success with TPlinks plugs. I use the single, the single with power monitoring and a multi plug with individually addressable outlets (not sure if it’s 4 or 6).

It plays nicely with Home Assistant. https://www.kasasmart.com/us/products/smart-plugs/kasa-smart...

Thank you!

We've used a non-WiFi version of these at work with great success:


Fairly expensive though.

If you search on Amazon for wifi power strip there are several inexpensive options to choose from, starting at about $25 for a four outlet model with individually controllable outlets.

Wouldn't that be binary on/off instead of a temperature sliding deal?

Valid concern about more moving parts and expected lifetime

Presumably the grill temp itself is best addressed through the grill—you can mechanically attenuate gas very effectively and intuitively, plus you'd presumably be at the grill already.

Personally I use charcoal because I like flavor. :)

I looked it up and this thing is actually for the thermometer, not the grill.

Points kinda the same tho right? Power strip is too early / dumb to modify a near-continuous variable on the device

And, as was in the reply tweets, it's not an IoT grill.

It's a thermometer app for a Bluetooth thermometer.


It's actually not the grill - just a bluetooth thermometer that you can attach to the grill. I have one and it's very useful. I find it much more practical than other "smart" devices like thermostats, light bulbs, refrigerators, or even TVs.


For me part of grilling is being outside and probably not far form the grill. I try to manage temp and time so that I only need to use a thermometer as a double-check right at the end of cooking. I would never even think to use a remote read thermometer, let alone an IoT one.

I have a Weber grill that claims to be iGrill Ready™® and it's very optional, FWIW. I have no idea what it does and have never interacted with it, even though I'm just constantly grilling.

Man I love my pellet grill WiFi. If I’m doing an overnight brisket I can check on it without leaving my bed. And if it gets done early it’ll notify me.

I upgraded specifically for that and I genuinely love it.

I'm utterly confused there as well. Decent grills I've owned consisted of three metal poles, a chain, a grill. Maybe a metal frame, a metal pan, a grill. Technically, I don't think I'd need much more than a bunch of sticks to grill something, besides fire material.

This is so nuts, there must be something missingThis might be a recipe app registering some bullshit capabilities or something.

Have you the tried the iCrock, it will change your mind ;)

Way prefer a grill with an IP address to an oven or refrigerator.

"Alexa, set my oven to bake at 375" is something you hear several times a week in my house. ️

Now my dishwasher, that's got wifi as well and that one I don't really get. The only command it accepts is to tell me how many dishwasher detergent pods I have left. To have it track that, I have to tell it whenever I buy more pods, and it subtracts one every time I run a dishwashing cycle.

You could probably hook that up to grocy[0]

[0] - https://grocy.info/

All 3 of these will inevitably be botnet nodes and DDoS amplifiers. We aren't ready for the responsibility of having any of these class of devices added to the internet.

At least it's easier to throw out the window.

I think it would be really nice to have access to cameras in my refrigerator when I have a dinner idea as I'm leaving work.

Hope it's not a gas grill, or you may be one zero-day short of a remotely-activated IED.

Yeah, and some people over at [0] are insisting that there's no way cheap cellular connectivity will mean you'll have 5G in your toaster. No way anyone would do that. smh.


[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23273340

There's somewhat of a difference between "people will buy a premium product with 'smart' features" (a wireless meat thermometer in this case) and "they will put 5G chips into everything to spy on us even if we just want a dumb device"

Both will happen. Smart TVs are evidence of the latter.

Okay, so an IoT BBQ is a useful thing.

How are we going to prevent every single useful thing from coming up with its own crappy, poorly-maintained application? Because obviously having open standards is not enough.

So far the solution we've come up with seems to be "wait until one or a few companies dominate the market, come up with their own solution, and hope it's an open one and/or others adopt it."

This particular app might not be crappy, but I think my question still stands.

Is that necessarily something we want to prevent?

In the context of the early Web, should we have prevented any company from making their own website? Enforced some standard for how your website UX should work in the name of security and usability? Obviously not, as that diversity has led to more, better choices over time, and in the end the better UXs usually win out anyway.

Perhaps in a similar way, as Weber and other grill brands continue to sell into the IoT space, competition will drive them to differentiate in UX on their apps in addition to their hardware. Albeit at a slower pace given that their hook is their hardware unlike a digital product where the website is also usually the first impression.

> In the context of the early Web, should we have prevented any company from making their own website?

Well, websites are now a bundle of arbitrary remote code execution called javascript, we didn't allow that, so by today's standards, ya we did.

> Enforced some standard for how your website UX should work in the name of security and usability?

Well, html, so ya, again, ya we did. And we could again. A lot of the functionality of apps simply don't justify requiring you to run a program.

Is there a meat thermometer open standard?

The only thing you can really do with an app-tied product: complain loud and publicly, and hope the company realized that nobody is buying a locked in product if the app has two stars.

Some good replies:

"Comes with a built in firewall"

"*Default Braiser?"

"Still better than Internet Explorer!"

It's the hottest new browser on the market.

I'm here all week.

It's important to not accept it as the default browser, otherwise you might get fried

Don't forget:

"Does it support cookies?"

"Welcome to the World Wide Weber"

Why does Weber have their own browser? Or is this one of those embedded browsers in an app? If the latter, why do they need an embedded browser in their app?

Have you ever used the kind of application that would be produced by a barbeque grill manufacturer? I am not surprised it has an embedded web browser and this type of misconfiguration in the bundle.

No, I usually don't install apps for things like grills, refrigerators, trashcans or other domestic objects since I can't imagine they'd offer me anything obviously beneficial. I'm sure that's why I haven't enjoyed experiences like this.

This. Sure, we can question why these kinds of apps get bundled with "internet of things" devices, but it won't stop until we realise collectively we aren't in fact better off with things listening to every word, reacting to every move, recording everyone passing our house, etc.

Just makes me think of that Futurama episode where the robotic wash bucket switches bodies with Amy...

Maybe you aren't. I love it. Hasn't hurt me in any way and I've only ever got benefits from it. Honestly, there are lots of companies and some governments I'd be willing to buy a tracking chip from to embed in my body for the right value.

I've never used a Bluetooth one, but wireless meat thermometers are super helpful IMO. They mostly use proprietary protocols, but a lot of the 433mhz ones have been reverse engineered

Probably something like a privacy policy or faq that opens the weber website in an embedded browser

Probably, not well configured an AndroidManifest.xml is the problem.

It doesn't have its own browser, it's just a misconfigured app that makes Android think its a browser.

I am truly curious what happens if you hit yes

I'll give you a heads up when my react project goes live. I can't help but feel like it's going to be useful to you in that role.

I think the iGrill lets you see the readings on the temperature probes. Probably broadcasts it to your phone in the vicinity.


I think it would be incredibly cool if this tweet especially was turned into reality:


Ever since Weber took it over the app is a piece of shit.

LOL - Just be glad it wasn't a keyboard device!

Holly shit, this is a friend of mine! Small world.

Your BBQ has an android app?

Url changed from https://twitter.com/caseorganic/status/1259858946917097473, which points to this.

No way this isn't an ad.

By collecting scorn on HN? This would be a terrible way to market a product

Not really, engineers don't actually care about security.

... and it's not the worst browser of the three.

This is prime https://twitter.com/internetofshit material

Frankly so is 98% of my interaction with technology on a daily basis.

I'd be SOOO happy if my grill was able to do this on iOS. Then I'd destroy the grill.

I trust my BBQ more than any browser nowadays, so I would probably pick that.

If I have to choose between BBQ and the Web, I'll take BBQ.

At least this is a "Web"-er Grill. Makes sense.

Take your upvote and get out.

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