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Alexa will soon be able to directly control ovens and microwaves

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you own a smart microwave or oven, you might soon be able to control it with Alexa without calling up a specific skill. Amazon announced today that it’s adding microwave and oven control features to its smart assistant, allowing it to handle requests like “Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high.” Amazon says that support for other cooking appliances will be added later.

Alexa can already be used to control some smart appliances, but doing so requires you to use a specific Alexa skill. It sounds like after these new changes, appliances can be controlled just by saying “Alexa, do this” instead of something like “Alexa, tell Geneva to preheat the oven,” as you have to do for GE appliances right now. The result ought to be more natural and easier to remember.

The biggest limitation here is on the appliance side: even if you have a smart microwave or a smart oven — and most people don’t — it also needs to be updated to support this feature. Amazon has a handful of partners on board, but it isn’t clear just how quickly support will roll out.

Whirlpool is supposed to be the first to launch the integration, allowing customers to “configure, start, and operate” its line of connected microwaves. That’s expected to launch “soon.”

GE Appliances, LG, Samsung, and Kenmore also plan to add Alexa support for their ovens, as well as other appliances, at some point in the future.

It sounds like a useful area for Amazon to expand Alexa’s reach, since people often have their hands full while cooking and appliances’ interfaces are often pretty cramped and confusing. That said, hopefully Amazon and these companies have taken precautions to make sure that ovens don’t get accidentally set without people realizing, since that could lead to a dangerous situation. Alexa is usually good about ignoring accidental commands, but it’s still a situation these companies need to be very careful to avoid.

Correction and update January 5th, 8:30AM ET: This article has been updated to note that Alexa can already control appliances through skills; this change seems to let it do so without calling on a specific skill.