Think pressing a button to have a robot vacuum clean your floors is lazy? How about speaking out loud as you lounge on the couch to kickstart vacuuming. Thanks to a new partnership between the Amazon Alexa voice assistant and $699 Neato Botvac Connected that's exactly what you can do now that Neato's new Alexa skill is live.
As of today owners of Amazon's Echo devices, such as the original Amazon Echo, Echo Tap or Echo Dot can simply say, "Alexa, ask Neato to start cleaning." and both the cloud service and robotic servant will perk up and comply. Alexa also recognizes numerous variations of the phrase -- there are 20 in all. You can issue other voice commands to pause the Neato Botvac during the cleaning process or tell it to resume its chores when you're ready.
I can imagine several scenarios where this kind of voice control might come in handy. For instance when the doorbell or phone rings and you need quiet.
Unfortunately the Neato and Amazon Alexa collaboration at the moment doesn't go beyond basic functions to start, stop, pause and resume vacuuming. You can't ask Alexa when the Botvac Connected is scheduled to clean next. You also can't tell Alexa to create a new schedule within its calendar -- which is easy to do in the Neato mobile app.
Neato and Amazon aren't betting on the extra convenience of voice-controlled vacuuming alone to open customers' wallets. Both companies plan to offer a special Black Friday deal. The promotion will include an $50 Echo Dot free of charge if you spring for a $699 Neato Botvac Connected. I also suspect Alexa compatibility will come to Neato's other internet- and app-connected robot vacuums, the D3 Connected and D5 Connected, which are expected to hit the market in December of 2016 after a two-month delay.