I went to a Cisco product launch in London the other day, where the company unveiled its new Cisco Connect Cloud router remote access and configuration interface (I've embedded my video of the live demo below, along with a promo video from Cisco). Perhaps most interestingly, it's also a application platform that developers are being encouraged to sign up for. The idea is that developers can create apps that hook into the router from afar and help users control devices connected to the network.
Inevitably, that Flying Dutchman of the tech world, the internet fridge, made an appearance, with Cisco demoing a Whirlpool app that can monitor the temperature, water filter status and so on via a smartphone (but no, you still can't buy the fridge).
Six apps are bundled with the new range of app-enabled routers (one of these is the dual-band, 3-stream EA4500, which I am currently reviewing), providing device management, parental controls, guest wireless access, USB storage, media prioritisation (QoS), and a speed test. There are also six third-party apps available to download, including the Hipplay media player, Twonky Video, an IP camera viewer, plus a device monitoring app and two net filtering/application blocking tools.
I'll reserve judgement until I've finished my review, but it looks like an interesting project. Anything that simplifies router interfaces is very welcome, however.
Cisco also announced its first 802.11ac router, the EA6500, which will go on sale in September 2012.
Update 29/6: I've just seen the post on Slashdot discussing user complaints about Connect Cloud in the US. I haven't got the EA4500 set up yet, but when I do I'll try and see what's going on. There seem to be two main issues being complained about - possible internet history tracking, and inability to configure some settings when bypassing Connect Cloud by unplugging the internet connection.
Update 1/7: According to Bloomberg, Cisco says it 'made a mistake' with the wording of Connect Cloud T&Cs, and has now changed the wording. Sadly, the horse has already bolted.