It’s been more than a year since Amazon introduced Key, the app that allows users to remotely unlock their doors and let delivery couriers drop your Amazon goods inside your home.
Since then, Key has expanded to include a whole line of virtual unlocking products. Amazon announced the latest at the Consumer Electronics Show this winter: Key for Garage.
Key for Garage will work a lot like Key — now called Key for Home — does. An Amazon Prime courier comes to your home and notifies you via the app that they’ve arrived. You use the app to open your garage and grant them access for in-home delivery. If you have an Amazon Cloud Cam, you can watch the delivery get made.
The Chamberlain Group makes one of the garage door openers that will be compatible with Key for Garage. Jeff Meredith, president and chief operating officer of Chamberlain Group, told The Verge that he could imagine a scenario in the not-too-distant future in which Amazon Prime members keep a refrigerator in the garage for deliveries of Whole Foods and Prime Now groceries.
Amazon says Key for Garage will be available in select U.S. cities between April and June 2019.
Keeping up with all of the Amazon Keys
Key for Garage is one of a growing suite of services under the Amazon Key umbrella. The Amazon Key suite gives users the ability to unlock their front doors, open their garages, unlock their cars or receive business deliveries even if they’re not present.
Key for Home controls front-door access, which allows couriers to deliver packages inside buyers’ homes. This service launched in late 2017. To use it, customers needed Amazon’s Cloud Cam and a compatible lock, both connected to the home’s WiFi.
Key for Garage is similar, except Prime members use it to open their garage doors for couriers. Like Key for Home, it requires compatible equipment: a Chamberlain or LiftMaster myQ garage door opener or a hub that can sync with your existing garage door opener. Like Key for Home, customers also have to buy an Amazon Cloud Cam if they want to monitor their space while couriers are inside. (Amazon has said it will sell these items as a bundle, but has not announced pricing for those kits.)
Then there’s Key for Business. This service offers drivers smart key fobs that grant them access to commercial and residential buildings. Specifically, drivers can use these fobs to unlock building access systems, even those powered by buzzers or keypads. The fob talks to an Amazon delivery app, which verifies that the driver is due to deliver a package to that building at that time. If so, they’re in.
Amazon says “hundreds” of businesses have signed up for Key for Business so far, the company told CNBC.
Finally, there’s Key for Car, which is similar to the first two Key services but grants delivery drivers access to your car (provided it’s parked at street level in a lot the driver can access).
Users can sync the Amazon Key app with eligible cars, which currently include Chevys, Buicks, GMCs, Cadillacs and Volvos from model years 2015 or newer. Amazon says the service will make deliveries during work hours easier, and that delivery drivers only have access to cars for the moments before they deliver parcels, not after.
What problems does Amazon Key solve — and what problems remain?
In 2017, 31 percent of survey respondents told Shorr Packaging Corp.that they’d had had a package stolen in their lifetime. About 41 percent said they’d refrained from purchasing certain items online in case they were stolen from their lobby or front porch.
Amazon has designed services for apartment and condo dwellers before — for example, its parcel lockers that sit in lobbies and keep packages safe until residents get home. But buildings, not individuals, have to purchase those. Key products are up to individuals, which greatly increases the number of Amazon customers who might use them.
When Amazon debuted Key for Home, many potential customers were nervous. Was Amazon really asking us to let strangers into our homes, alone, just so we could get Christmas gifts on time? Indeed they were. The diversification of Key products suggests that Amazon knows not everyone is comfortable with that — but we might let delivery drivers into our garages or cars.
In recent years, Amazon has obviously sought to expand into the grocery market, first with Amazon Fresh and then with its acquisition of Whole Foods. One key challenge of those services is that users don’t want perishable goods sitting on their porches for hours. Key for Garage could help solve that problem if users adopt the garage fridge that the Chamberlain executive suggested.
Key products give Amazon more ways to get packages to customers more conveniently and entices us, of course, to buy more Amazon products. But they also give users time to gradually adjust to the idea of deliveries entering more directly into our homes. If we weren’t ready for Key for Home the first time around, maybe we’ll be comfortable with Garage or Car — and maybe, in a few more years, we’ll readily unlock our front doors too.