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Smart Home

Your next Amazon Prime package could be delivered to your garage with Key by Amazon

Just in time for CES, the in-home delivery service gets a bunch of new features.

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A demo of the Key in-home delivery service.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon is on a mission to operate your front door and, while it's at it, your car trunk and garage door, too.

On Monday, the world's largest online retailer unveiled a handful of updates to its in-home delivery service, starting with a slightly tweaked name. The service, originally called Amazon Key, is now dubbed Key by Amazon.

Added to that, Amazon revealed a new Key for Business service, integration with the Amazon-owned Ring home-security app and in-garage delivery using Chamberlain's connected garage doors. Plus, a new Schlage Encode Wi-Fi-connected lock was added to the Key program, joining other smart locks from Schlage, Yale and Kwikset. The new announcements were timed for the start of CES 2019, the biggest annual tech show.

"We have been super excited and super thrilled to see how Key is being used today," Rohit Shrivastava, Key's general manager, said in an interview. "It clearly goes way beyond delivery."

As is typical for Amazon, Shrivastava declined to provide hard figures on how many customers are using Key but said, "This is a service that our customers are loving and using a lot."

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Amazon launched Key in late 2017, bringing the in-home delivery service to several dozen US metro areas. The keyless entry feature expanded nationwide the following April, and in-car delivery arrived soon after. The new delivery services are only available to Prime customers in a handful of markets but come at no additional cost.

The e-commerce company is using Key as another tool to dominate the smart home, where it's already the market leader in smart speakers and is a major player in TV streamers. Added to that, the in-home delivery service should help Amazon cut down on package thefts, which annoy customers and cost the company money for replacements. Amazon said it doesn't have any data on whether Key is having an impact on thefts.

Though Amazon is moving forward with a handful of new concepts for Key, it currently doesn't have plans to create its own smart lock. "Not at this time," an Amazon spokeswoman said. "We'll leave that to the pros at Yale, Kwikset and Schlage."

On the name change, Shrivastava said the company wanted to emphasize the service's many keyless entry features more than Amazon's in-home delivery service, a part of Key that was at first mocked by customers for seeming too intrusive.

As part of Monday's announcement, Amazon unveiled:

  • In-garage access using Chamberlain's myQ-connected garage-door software. The new feature will allow people to monitor and control their garage doors using the Key app. Prime customers in eligible markets will be able to use this feature to get in-garage deliveries. These new features will roll out in the second quarter. Garage deliveries are technically already available for anyone who sets up the Key service in a garage with an outside door.
  • Key for Business, a fob that lets drivers deliver Amazon packages to offices and apartments without needing to get buzzed in each time by building staff. The service is already being used as part of a beta program in hundreds of commercial properties, including apartments owned by WinnCompanies, Avalon and Kettler.
  • The new Schlage Encode Wi-Fi-connected lock will be available for preorder and join the Key program starting today. The $250 lock ships in the US starting March 5. The lock will be the first in the Key lineup that uses Wi-Fi, which will allow Amazon to provide the keyless entry features without the need for a separate $120 Cloud Cam security camera. For all the other locks, the Cloud Cam acts as a wireless Zigbee hub to remotely open and close the lock. Prime customers who want to use the in-home delivery service will still need to set up a Cloud Cam.
  • A new integration with Ring that lets customers open and close their Key-compatible locks from within the Ring app. That new feature is coming in the first quarter. Amazon acquired Ring for a reported $1 billion last April.

CES 2019: See all of CNET's coverage of the year's biggest tech show.

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