Amazon is not satisfied with just being a provider of smart assistants and smart speakers; they also want to provide the products that its smart assistants control. We’ve seen them moving into this space through the acquisition of other smart home companies, like Ring, and they have manufactured some of their own products like cameras. Now, they are taking the next step.
Amazon recently announced that they were releasing an own-brand microwave, the AmazonBasics Microwave, as the future of homes begin to fill with more and more smart products. The microwave will be able to utilize Amazon’s smart AI, Alexa.
Here are some of the microwaves features:
- Quick-cook voice presets: These are just what you’d think, shortcuts to defrosting veggies, popping popcorn, softening that potato, and zapping that rice. I’m not sure that using your voice for these presets is faster than literally just hitting a button, but this device has a “simplified keypad” so you might not have a choice between pushing a button and speaking to your microwave. Amazon also mentions that with Alexa’s continuous work on getting smarter, your presets will also expand and adapt over time.
- One feature you won’t find on other microwaves is the ability to replenish food when you run out. Amazon, of course, has their Dash technology to help with that. This new microwave will have that tech built in, so if you notice that you are throwing in your last bag of popcorn, you can simply reorder a fresh supply.
- This countertop unit is small and compact so even those of us living in tiny spaces can use it. It includes many of the standards that you’ll find on other microwaves: power levels, the ability to use a kitchen timer, a turntable, and a child lock.
Are you sold yet? OK but maybe not so fast. There are a few caveats to those cool features.
First, to use any of the microwave’s voice features, like the presets, you have to also have an Echo device. Those are, of course, sold separately. In fairness, though, they are very affordable and you could likely swing the microwave and an Echo Dot for under $100 (especially if you get the Echo Dot on sale during, say, Black Friday). Once you have both devices, you just complete a simple pairing operation and you’ll be all set. Once connected, you’ll be able to use voice commands by either waking Alexa up on your Echo device (you could say, “Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee”) or pressing the Ask Alexa button and giving a command (you would simply say something like “5 minutes”). It seems as though you’ll need to keep an Echo device close enough to your kitchen that it can hear you give commands.
To use the replenishment service, you’ll need to sign up. In the Alexa app there will be a place for you to choose the popcorn brands that you prefer, and reorder when you’re running low.
If you’re still on board, look out for this product in mid-November. It’s priced at approximately $60.