Every month Amazon adds new skills to its Alexa smart speakers. This month the most notable is the addition of barcode scanning via Amazon’s Echo Show devices, thanks to the built-in camera. Prime members can use Amazon Fresh to get two-hour deliveries in over 2,000 U.S. cities, which means you could now scan your favorite snack with an Echo Show and have it appear at your door the same day.
Simply ask to scan — The update was spotted by Digital Trends in the list of new Alexa features for January 2020 on Amazon’s Alexa blog. To use the feature, say “Alexa, scan this to my shopping list,” and hold the barcode up to the camera. If it’s an uncommon item and scanning doesn’t work, you can, of course, ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list, but then you’re going to get a generic item list, not the specific product.
Also, the feature only works with the Alexa shopping list. So if you and your partner/housemate/colleagues use a shared Microsoft To List, for instance, you’re fresh out of luck… for now at least.
You can also set device-specific timers — Another new Alexa feature is the ability to set a timer on a particular Echo device. So if, for example, you’ve got one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen you can specify where you want a timer or alarm to be set, even if you’re in a different room talking to a different device.
Paying for gas by voice command is also incoming — Amazon’s also said later this year it’ll enable payments at 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations around the U.S. via Amazon Pay, which could prove to the main use case for the Alexa support that was recently added to its $260,000 Lamborghini’s Huracán Evo.