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You can now scan bar codes for your grocery list with the Amazon Echo Show announced their fourth-quarter sales are up 21% to $87.4 billion and, interestingly, they revealed that people talk to Alexa billions of times per week. While Alexa’s abilities haven’t reached the billions yet, they are now one feature closer. In addition to being able to give medication reminders and order refills, order pizza, pay utility bills, and purchase fuel at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil stations, the smart assistant can scan, too. Now when you need to add a new item to your grocery list, you can scan the item’s bar code by holding it up in front of your Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8. This new feature was announced in the What’s New with Alexa Monthly Roundup for January.

Barcode on a cookie pack
Alina Bradford/Digital Trends

To get started, all you need to do is say, “Alexa, scan this to my shopping list.” Then, just hold the bar code on the package up to the screen. Alexa may have some problems recognizing some private label products, but that isn’t a problem. You can still add the product to your list using voice commands.

When’s the best time to use the scanner skill? You’ll probably find it most useful when you’re trying to add an item that is very specific and hard to describe. It’s also a good choice when Alexa is being difficult and can’t understand your request.

This new feature will go hand-in-hand with the change that was made to Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market back in October 2019. Prime members get these services without the extra charge, giving more than 2,000 U.S. cities and towns free two-hour grocery delivery.

This isn’t the first time Alexa has been able to recognize products using an Alexa-compatible device camera. The Show and Tell feature that was rolled out in 2019 allows visually impaired users to hold up items in front of their Echo Show cameras and ask, “Alexa, what am I holding?” Once Alexa has identified an object it then announces verbally what it is. This feature can be handy for identifying medications, spices, and other items where bottles can be similar to the touch, but the contents can be very different.

Want to know about more cool Alexa skills? Here’s our list of the best Alexa skills.

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Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford has been a tech, lifestyle and science writer for more than 20 years. Her work is read by millions each month…
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