Step 4: Connect to Wi-Fi
I selected the network, clicked connect, and then something strange happened. For some reason, Apple Pay kept coming up, prompting me to “double click to pay,” and I thought it might be blocking me in order to charge me for a subscription. When I then selected payment and authenticated, it prompted me to hold it close to the card reader. When nothing happened, I got rid of the wallet application and kept going.
Fearing another user error since this was such an odd thing, I ended up starting the entire process over again. Low and behold, this happened at the same place the second time around. I even switched my phone to a different network, went back and selected the original network, and I got a spinning Wi-Fi icon.
I wasn’t sure what was going on, and then I got a notification from Xfinity telling me another device had joined the network. When I went to check it out, sure enough, it was the Molekule device. So I went back to the Molekule app and saw that the “connect” button was still spinning.
I forced the app to close and reopened it. After going through the entire process again, the app connected to the device. It FINALLY worked!
Step 5: Setting Up the IoT Device
Now, I was given the opportunity to name the device and select what pollutants I’m most concerned about filtering. I picked pet hair, and the next screen told me about how the filter targets pet hair. Still, it was clear that this was just a templated screen that had pet hair fill in the blank — any of the selections likely would have shown the same.
After that, the app immediately started to push the filter subscription. I hadn’t even gotten to breathe the fresh air coming from my brand new air filter, and it was already asking me to spend more money on it. Sure, I probably would want to subscribe to get new filters anyway, but I had to click through many screens before they finally stopped trying to sell it to me. At last, I was able to finish setting up my device and put it into auto-filter mode.
It’s evident that tremendous effort went into building the Molekule Air Mini's physical device; it’s elegant, thoughtful, and well-constructed. Unfortunately, the digital experience completely underperforms from a technical perspective. First, I don’t like that the device lacks any UI or buttons. The capacitive touch isn’t easy to use, nor does it provide any information while troubleshooting.
Even as an advanced user, I still struggled to get the device paired and on my network. Many people will have less experience and patience than me, so I’m not surprised to see so many negative reviews.
On a final note, let’s fast forward to when I came back the next day and tried to connect. The app said, “Updating your device, come back soon!” so I waited a couple of hours — and I was still stuck on that screen. There’s no status bar telling me what’s happening or when it might be done. I assumed it was updating the firmware, but it didn’t give me any info about what’s updating or why. I also didn’t opt-in to this update, which isn’t a great user experience.
If it were up to me, I’d provide a lot more communication around updates to the device, especially if it’s going offline or is going to be unavailable during the update. Finally, I would be sure to deliver a push notification when the update is complete.
All of this shows that IoT device developers need to plan for UX from the beginning. That’s a crucial part of our IoT design process at Very, and it shows in our products.
If you want to see it for yourself, check out the Koller IoT fish tank as a perfect example of how we build cutting-edge technology with a frictionless user experience.