Amazon's new Dash Wand supports the full range of Alexa voice commands

Amazon’s Dash Wand is sort of like a television remote that queues up deliveries instead of channels. At least, that was the intention — when the Dash Wand launched in early 2014, the bar code-scanning, voice-recognizing dongle was criticized for its many limitations. Starting Thursday, though, Amazon’s releasing a new model that supports Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

To the untrained eye, the new Alexa Dash Wand doesn’t look all that different from the previous generation of Dash Wand. It sports a large, circular keychain loop, a strong magnet (meant for affixing the thing to metallic refrigerators), and a circular button that illuminates blue when pushed. But unlike the outgoing Amazon Dash, which only let you add items to a shopping card via limited voice controls, the new model supports Alexa natively. You can buy items directly instead of having to check out manually, like you can with Amazon’s pricier Echo speakers.

That’s not the only thing the new Dash Wand can do. Amazon says the remote-shaped dongle can find recipes, convert cups to ounces, reorder past items, find nearby restaurants, show movie showtimes, save reminders, set timers, and more. And it supports the full range of the more than 12,000 third-party apps — or “skills” — in Alexa’s library, including ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber, food-ordering apps like Dominos and Grubhub, and smart home appliance apps like Hue and SmartThings.

amazon dash wand alexa amazn

One feature it won’t support is Alexa Calling, Amazon’s new messaging platform — the upcoming Echo Show and existing devices can make and receive calls and dictate messages, which the companion Alexa app saves for posterity. And it won’t support Prime Music, Amazon’s internet music service. But given the Dash Wand’s diminutive size, it’s hard to call either omission a dealbreaker.

The new Dash Wand starts at $20, but Amazon’s gifting Prime subscribers who pick one up to $20, making the Dash Wand essentially a free purchase. Customers can sign up for a 90-day trial of Amazon’s AmazonFresh home grocery service.

Amazon’s Alexa-equipped Dash Wand is only the newest frontier for its voice assistant. Last month, the company unveiled the Echo Show, a touchscreen- and camera-equipped Echo that boasts video chat, Amazon’s Prime Music service, visual weather forecasts, and video content from CNN and YouTube. And earlier this year, it launched the first smart TV-equipped with Alexa, Element’s Amazon Fire TV Edition.

That rapid expansion might be seen as an effort to combat evolving voice platforms like Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, the company announced the HomePod, an AI-powered smart speaker that works with home appliances and boasts many of the same features as Amazon’s Echo speakers, including reminders and alarms. And in May, Google announced forthcoming features for its Google Home speaker, including proactive notifications, free calling to phones in the United States and Canada, calendar management, new music streaming services, and Chromecast integration.

Amazon, it’s safe to say, has its work cut out for it.

Smart Home

Amazon Alexa enhancements add geolocation, kids’ Routines, and more

Amazon's digital assistant Alexa continues to evolve and its newest features should appeal to busy people and parents on the go, including location-based routines and reminders as well as Routines aimed toward kids.
Deals

Today’s best Amazon deals: Bose, Keurig, and Butterball

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be over, but for retail giants like Amazon, the savings are only getting started. We've scoured the depths of Amazon to find you the very best deals going on right now.
Deals

Sign up for Verizon Fios Triple Play and get a free Amazon Echo, Prime for a year

Verizon is now offering its Fios Gigabit Connection Custom TV and Phone service with Amazon Prime tossed in. While valid, you can sign up for the company’s Triple Play package, which includes all three Fios services, for $80 per month.
Smart Home

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube gets intercom-style Alexa Announcements feature

Owners of the Amazon Fire TV Cube can now use the media streaming service with Amazon's one-way intercom feature called Alexa Announcements to broadcast messages to other Alexa devices in their home.
Deals

Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Deals

These Amazon kitchen deals are perfect for Christmas gifts and healthy eating

Today is day 10 of Amazon’s “12 Days of Deals,” and it’s all about kitchen. From blenders to Instant Pots to KitchenAid mixers and more, practical yet highly coveted small appliances are available for up to 50 percent off.
Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Smart Home

Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: Which one is right for you?

Thanks to the advance of technology, it's become really easy nowadays to secure your home and protect it from thieves, intruders, and unwanted guests. Which one of these two top contenders is right for you?
Smart Home

The Apple HomePod gets a whole lot cheaper today at Target

Apple's HomePod hasn't been the most popular smart speaker on the market but for users who are all in on Apple's heavily policed ecosystem of devices, this smart speaker is on serious sale at Target this week.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.
Smart Home

Dear Instant Pot Smart: I love you. Thank you for changing my life

After taking the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker for a spin, one long-time product reviewer finds much to love about the device she long coveted, despite that it’s not really that smart.
Deals

Brew, drip, or press a fresh cup of joe with today’s best deals on coffee makers

To kick off the day with a fresh cup or upgrade your home coffee machine to accommodate the preferences of dinner guests, check these hot deals for drip coffee makers, espresso machines, and single-serving devices on Walmart and Amazon.
Smart Home

People are stealing Ring doorbells (and it’s no knock-knock joke)

Ring Video Doorbell thefts in a Denver neighborhood raise questions about how much security the smart home devices actually provide. One homeowner and the police have a video of the theft. Here's what to do if your Ring device is stolen.