Amazon’s Alexa is stepping up the game with ability to lock the door to your house. This is all thanks to an integration with August, a startup that specializes in Internet-connected door locks, reports Fortune. This followed previous integration enabling the voice assistant to check your credit card balance, order an Uber, and a Domino’s pizza to be delivered at your location.
How it works
The new skill only works with the first and second generation August Smart Lock. You also need the August Connect Wi-Fi bridge in addition to having the company’s Bluetooth lock. Finally, if you own an Amazon device with Alexa built-in, then you can use the new voice command: “Alexa, tell August to lock the front door.” It’s also proper to have the door checked just to be sure it is properly locked. Since this is all about security, not everyone will complain about being advised to check if the door is locked—but it only solves the problem half way when talking about convenience.
“Alexa, tell August to lock the front door” is the clearest indication yet that the skill is not a direct integration. It is not a direct integration because of additional language “tell August;” of course, it won’t carry out the command without adding those two words.
The new skill only works with ordering Alexa to lock your door, and doesn’t have the ability to unlock it at the moment. Explaining why this skill didn’t come along with this new integration, August CEO Jason Johnson, said this was due to security constraints—but added that the feature will eventually be added by the company.
Amazon is not the only company on the lists of August, the company has an integration with Apple’s Siri, and HomeKit–Apple’s home automation platform that allow Apple Watch and iPhone users to unlock their doors with a voice command. According to Johnson, Apple’s Siri is more secure because it is tied to an individual, while Alexa is not yet tied to an individual user—but that won’t be long.
This could just be the beginning of integrating more security skills for Alexa as Amazon tries to ward off competition from Google and Apple—two big tech giants controlling a fair share of the market. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in June that Alexa has more than 1,000 people working in the technology—hoping that Alexa becomes one of the company’s major pillars.
Of course, everyone would love to know how much information would be made available to Amazon; but speaking to CNET, Johnson allayed the fears of users: “We don’t give them your August account ID. We don’t give them information about individual users,” he said. “But certainly as you do an action through an Alexa device, they know that you’ve done the action…but we also don’t do any kind of association of address.”
“We take privacy very seriously at Amazon and designing Alexa skills is no different” a spokesperson for Amazon said, per CNET. “Voice recordings are stored in the cloud in order to make the product better for our customers…Importantly, you can view and delete each utterance one at a time, or all at once.”
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