Alexa can now make a beer run.
In addition, Amazon says people in Seattle, Washington, Columbus, Ohio, and Cincinnati, Ohio will be able to use Alexa and Prime Now to get select alcohol delivered through the service. (It’s not fully legal everywhere.)
For the unfamiliar, Prime Now is Amazon’s answer to fast delivery services like Postmates, or, for food, Seamless. It makes a few thousand items from Amazon’s store, mostly everyday items or basic electronics, available for delivery in two hours or less. It’s only available in a few dozen major cities, though, and it doesn’t run for 24 hours a day.
Those same restrictions still apply here — you’ll just be able to use it by asking Alexa to “order [item] from Prime Now.” Alexa will then tell you the exact product it plans to buy, and it will be able to include multiple items in the order as well.
Notably, though, the Prime Now feature will only work if you have an Alexa-enabled piece of Amazon hardware, like its Echo speakers, Fire tablet, or Fire TV media streamers. That means it won’t work with the newly-updated Amazon app for iOS, which gained support for the voice assistant last week.
The move is Amazon’s latest attempt to use Alexa to help drive its core online retail business, and another instance of Amazon beefing up its AI in the face of competition from Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other companies building digital helpers. Alexa has long been able to order products through Amazon’s main Prime service, but Google in February announced that its Echo competitor, the Google Home, had gained shopping capabilities as well.
Nevertheless, while Amazon hopes to make Alexa the leading choice for what may be the next dominant computing interface, Echo owners now have a faster way to restock on potato chips without physically moving.