Amazon has come up with a new way for you to receive packages: leaving them inside your garage. Remember when Amazon wanted you to automatically unlock your front door for couriers to drop off deliveries? Amazon Key boss Rohit Shrivastava admits to The Verge that the idea raised some “challenges” and “emotional concerns,” but the company is still trying to launch a successful delivery service that lets strangers into your house. Only Amazon sees your garage as a better place to do that now.
That’s why the new Amazon Key for Garage lets the company’s deliverymen open your garage door to deliver packages there instead. It works with all Amazon Prime deliveries, and you can both monitor your garage with a camera and get notifications when deliveries are made. The company thinks it may be an easier sell for large packages, not to mention families concerned about weather or pets.
Setting up the service isn’t exactly free, even if you already use Amazon Key for your front door. To get Key for Garage when it becomes available, you’ll need a way to let Amazon into your garage, and that means either buying a Chamberlain or LiftMaster myQ garage door opener ($180 and up) or a hub to work with your existing door opener ($80) and setting it up by yourself. The service also doesn’t freely come with cameras for viewing your garage visitors. You’ll also have to purchase an Amazon Cloud Cam (another $120, unless you find it on sale) to add eyes to your operation.
Amazon will be selling kits where you can get a bundle deal for the items you’ll need, but the prices haven’t been announced yet.
Once all of that is taken care of, Amazon says you’ll able to monitor deliveries from your Key app. You can also set a mat down where you want your deliveries to be placed. Amazon has instructed drivers not to place packages within the path of car traffic so that all-important ultrawide monitor or digital piano keyboard isn’t crushed as you drive into the garage. While the service currently doesn’t work with Alexa — you can’t ask Alexa to check in on your garage packages — a possible integration is underway.
“[The garage] is part of the home but doesn’t have the same challenges or emotional concerns.”
Key for Garage is one of a few expansions Amazon has planned for its Key business. The company also added a convenient new feature: Amazon’s Ring customers are now able to control certain smart locks from Schlage, Kwikset, and Yale through the Ring app, which could be handy if you already use the app to control your video doorbell and home security system.
Amazon is also launching Key for Business, available starting today, which is a service aimed at commercial and residential buildings that could make deliveries more seamless — especially when access to a certain building might be restricted throughout the day.
Key for Business grants drivers a “smart fob” for buildings that have signed on to the service, and the drivers can then use the fob to unlock a building’s access system, even if it’s got older buzzer or keypad-style entry devices on the outside of the building. The smart fob connects to an Amazon delivery app on the driver’s phone, and it will check if the driver is supposed to be delivering a package at the time and then allow them access to the building.
Expansion into the suburbs and a partnership with USPS won’t be here anytime soon
Key for Garage is set for launch sometime between April and June in 37 cities in the US, including major metropolitan areas (excluding New York). There’s a landing page to keep track of when it goes live. (The initial expansion into major cities might seem a little counterintuitive given that many people in metro areas tend to rent apartments and may not have individual garages.) The service also doesn’t work at all for deliveries made by the US Postal Service or other parcel services that require a person to be present to sign off.
Jeff Meredith, president and chief operating officer of Chamberlain Group, emphasizes that this is only phase one for Amazon’s Key services. “I don’t think this is a one-off at all,” says Meredith, referring to Key for Garage. “I see it more as a fundamental shift in where people get their packages delivered. It’s a starting point.”
While the first step is getting people to trust Amazon with their privacy and ensuring that the experience is up to par, Amazon does have its sights set on further expansion, especially given its Whole Foods and Prime Now delivery program that sends you groceries within two hours. Chamberlain’s Meredith says he could envision a future where people keep a second fridge in their garage, ready for food to be delivered.
Correction, January 7th, 2:43PM ET: It was Chamberlain’s Jeff Meredith, not Amazon’s Rohit Shrivastava, who imagined a future where people keep a second fridge in their garage for food deliveries. We regret the error.