iHome Embraces the App Store, Kitchens

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It appears that iHome maker SDI Technologies has adopted Apple's philosophy of using software to sell hardware, with an iPhone app that's free to all and two speaker docks designed for it.

Even if you don't have an iHome alarm clock or speakers, iHome+ Sleep, which is awaiting App Store approval, could be of use. It's basically a beefed-up alarm clock that deals in all things sleep-related. In addition to setting up to 40 alarms, the app can time a 20-minute power nap or an hour-long siesta. The app also tracks sleeping habits, helping users understand how long they sleep and how often they hit snooze.

Users can also set reminders, so when you turn on the alarm at night or switch it off in the morning, a pop-up message tells you what needs to be done. iHome+ Sleep has social networking features, too, allowing you send Twitter or Facebook updates directly from the app, and aggregating the night's updates with your friends. More perks could be on the way; SDI designer Andrew Skurdal hinted at an inclement weather checker that wakes you up a little early in a snowstorm.

How will all those functions help sell iHomes, as opposed to other iPhone docks? Little perks like the ability to control display and settings on the hardware directly from the app, and more importantly, the iHome players' function as a back-up alarm. For example, if a married couple sets two alarms on iHome+ Sleep, and one takes the iPhone while the other snoozes, the iHome will sound both alarms even if the iPhone is removed.

There are two supporting alarm docks for iHome+ Sleep. The iA5 is a simple dock charger, due in mid-February for $99. Further off is the iA100, which has four speakers, better sound with the Bongiovi Acoustics processor, FM radio and Bluetooth. It'll be available in August for $199.

One other product that impressed me: iHome's iP39 kitchen clock. It has stainless steel sides to match your cookware, a vertical design to save space and a slide-out dock, perfect for following a cooking podcast. It's coming this spring for $99.

For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PC World's complete coverage of CES 2010.

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