November 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Holiday Gift Guide: Refrigerator Apps, Real and Fake

Halloween is over, which means it’s time to start being happily badgered by holiday gift guides as you begin the long and arduous process of trying to buy the right gifts in as little time as is humanly possible.

Here’s an idea: The inevitable iPhone app refrigerator magnets are finally available. Refrigerators’ dimensions are just about right for replicating the look if not the feel of the iPhone, and as with the original, you can rearrange the location of the apps on your refrigerator’s home page.

Unfortunately, ThinkGeek’s App Magnets ($10) tiles look a little small for that, but sizing them proportionally would take up too much valuable fridge real estate anyway. At $10, they could make a good stocking stuffer for the tech fiend in your life who’s always updating their iPhone apps as you try to tell them stories over dinner.

The easter egg joke here, for geek historians, is that internet-enabled refrigerators are one of the longest-running gags in the connected device world. After being introduced at CES in January 2000, Cisco’s and Whirlpool’s doomed internet-enabled refrigerator, which could scan items and let you know when to buy more milk, notably failed to take off or even reach stores for that matter after the public reacted with an early version of what’s now known as “snark.”

Nonetheless, the long-awaited internet refrigerator is here at last, promising to help hapless chefs work our ways through Epicurious recipes while managing associated shopping lists:

Woodford Design’s FridgePad, another solid gift idea at $78 (eventually on Amazon; via, affixes iPads to refrigerators using the magic of magnets, bringing Cisco’s and Whirlpool’s vision of people tapping away on their household appliances to life on a widespread consumer scale for the first time.

ThinkGee’s App Magnets ($10) don’t work, unlike an iPad attached to a FridgePad, but they look like they look good.

The FridgePad ($78) does work, but only if the giftee has an iPad (or just received one).

Transparency: We spotted App Magnets via CNET’s Rick Broida, whose guide to Dell’s ill-fated MP3 player I edited (mostly free on Google Books). is busy with some behind the scenes design and analysis work and will get back to the harder music app news next week.

It’s been a good first three weeks, thanks for reading.