iRobot also announced plans for integration with Amazon Alexa voice-activated control. That feature, which allows customers to start, stop, and pause Roomba cleaning jobs with voice commands, is scheduled to arrive for U.S. customers in Q2 2017. iRobot gave an example of a possible command: “Alexa, ask Roomba to begin cleaning.”
The iRobot Home app works with the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 vacuum cleaners. As these robots clean, they build a map of the home. Clean Map reports, available in the app’s History tab, make these maps interactive (you can zoom and pan from room to room) and are visible to customers after a cleaning job is complete. They can show the total area cleaned, the duration of the job, and where the robot encountered a higher concentration of dirt or debris. The app can keep a history of up to 30 cleaning jobs. The update also includes push notifications for job status, including when the robot is finished cleaning.
“iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers’ experience with our cleaning robots,” iRobot CEO Colin Angle said in a statement. “The latest updates for the iRobot HOME App make cleaning with an iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot even more user-friendly with voice-activated commands, enhanced mapping features, and useful post-cleaning reports. These are exciting next steps toward our vision of an ecosystem of home robots that work collaboratively and further enable the smart home.”
The cleaning maps are honestly much more interesting than the Alexa voice commands, simply because they’re available to Roomba 900 series customers. The overlap between a Roomba owner and an Amazon Echo owner isn’t likely to be high, and the feature is further limited to the U.S.