Amazon is teaching its smart home assistant a new trick that’ll help it pull its weight around the house. Alexa can now take orders on new items from amazon.com (before it could only complete reorders). This means millions of new things just opened up for you to buy from the digital assistant built into Amazon’s wifi-connected Echo.
To place an order, just say, “Alexa, order [anything you can think of from Amazon’s warehouse].” Alexa will reply with a matching product that ships with Prime. It will also give you delivery times and price. Say “Yes” to confirm the order and you’re done. So now those new diapers are ordered and on their way all while you’re still changing your baby.
The feature opens up all kinds of new items ranging from food to accessories to electronics that the customer no longer has to buy first through their computer. Right now, the feature only works on Amazon Prime products which are stocked at their factory warehouses and ready to ship but the company says new items are continuing to get added.
It might seem obvious that a smart assistant from Amazon should be able to fulfill orders, but the company put off the feature for one and a half years after launch. “We launch things when they are ready,” an Amazon spokeswoman said when asked about the timing. “Our speech science engineers have made something very complicated and difficult to do so exceedingly easy for customers.”
Amazon launched home assistant technology in 2014 when it became an unexpected hit early on. The Alexa-enabled Echo has sold over 3 million units so far and spurred competition from Google – set to release their own product later this year – and potentially Apple which is rumored to be working on their own model.