As expected, Amazon is launching a new program that makes it easier to receive deliveries when you’re not around. And as expected, it sounds both super useful and a bit creepy.

Here’s the deal: Amazon Key is a new service that’s designed to let a delivery person have temporary access to your home to drop off a package when you’re not around. Once you’ve installed a smart lock and a security camera you could also use the system to allow guests, repair people, pet sitters, or others into your home.

It’s an interesting solution to a real problem: as a city dweller, I really don’t want Amazon or anyone else leaving packages on my porch. But it does mean putting a fair amount of faith into the system: do you value secure deliveries so much that you’re willing to let strangers into your home when you’re not there?

Amazon is trying to make the idea of granting remote access to a home less creepy by putting a lot of control in your hands: access to your home is revoked after a delivery is completed, users get real-time notifications on their phone and the company is launching a new Amazon Cloud Cam security camera that starts recording when the door is unlocked.

Amazon Key kits sell for $250 and up, and include the Cloud Cam ($120) and a choice of third-party smart locks. You need to be an Amazon Prime member to qualify, and Amazon Key will be available in just 37 metro markets when the service launches November 8th.

Once installed, a delivery person will have to request access to your home and Amazon will verify that the driver is at the right place at the right time before providing access. No physical keys are required and there’s no PIN or passcode that needs to be shared. And the camera will help you keep an eye on things to make sure nothing but the driver leaves the house while a package if being dropped off.

The service is also covered by Amazon’s “Happiness Guarantee” which promises up to $2,500 to cover property damage incurred during service.

One of the more interesting parts of Amazon Key is that it’s not just for deliveries. Amazons says it plans to offer “professional service scheduling with thousands of providers” in the “coming months.” In other words, the same system will let your dog walker or house cleaner get into your home without a spare key.

While early reports had suggested Amazon would partner with Phrame to provide access to your car trunk as well as your house, today’s announcement makes no mention of such a feature.

Not interested in Amazon Key? The new Cloud Cam is also available as a standalone device. You can pre-order one for $120, although there are also bundle deals right now if you want to buy more than one. You can get two for $200 when you use the coupon 2CLOUDCAM or get a 3-pack for $290 with 3CLOUDCAM.

The camera offers 24/7 real-time monitoring with 1080p video with clips uploaded to Amazon’s servers. You can view the last 24 hours of clips for free, get notifications when activity is detected, and there’s a night vision feature. The camera also supports 2-way audio, letting you check remotely.

More advanced features including person detection, clip sharing, and support for more than 3 cameras require a subscription, with plans starting at $7 per month or $70 per year.

Of course, Amazon is just one of many companies with a smart security camera to sell you. But it’s interesting that the company’s first foray into the space is not only related to Amazon’s other smart home products (such as its Echo speakers), but also its delivery business.

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22 replies on “Amazon Key lets delivery people into your home when you’re not there (with your permission)”

  1. Will it be possible for law enforcement agents to get a court order permitting them to accompany the Amazon delivery person entering your house and for them to then search your house for signs of terrorist activity, or undocumented immigrants hiding in the basement, or any other deviant unpatriotic material critical of President Trump? And just to be sure, they could plant some electronic surveillance “bugs” if they find nothing obvious.

  2. Given how delivery treat my packages (including Amazon’s own delivery service), I don’t trust them treating my home very well either.

  3. Note to door makers: Why not integrate a container in the front door,
    such that the door ejects the box to the outside when you are
    expecting a package. The carrier can just put your package(s) in
    the box, and the box will automatically lock and retract into your
    house when the box’s lid is closed. Wouldn’t be surprised if a
    crowdfunding campaign emerged out of this.

  4. The lack of any mention of integration with home security systems makes me wonder. On the one hand, people living in areas where this is needed are probably more likely to have a security system. On the other hand, people having a security system are probably unlikely to want to let people they don’t know into their house.

    On the criminal side, I wonder if the criminals will adapt and learn the houses with this system, and then force their way into a house with the driver when a package arrives? That could put the package driver at increased risk.

    1. I for one, think the couriers should use the chimney…. it’s how Santa does it, and it’s how America does it !!

      Keep the tradition alive.

  5. I have to laugh at the “Not over my dead body” reaction in some of the comments, as though Amazon is forcing this service on their customers. Not only is it completely optional, but you have to invest a considerable amount of money before you can use it. Clearly, this is not for everyone, not even remotely.

    Amazon doesn’t roll out services like this without investing a considerable amount of research into it, or without considering issues like hacking and theft by unscrupulous employees. Obviously, they have concluded that enough of their customers will find it useful enough to make this option available. We shall see.

    A friend of mine owns a condo in what is a nice enough part of town, but they and their fellow condo owners have suffered multiple opportunistic doorstep thefts after the UPS or Fedex delivery drivers have completed their round of deliveries to the complex. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if at least one condo owner there opts for in-home delivery as a way to prevent future thievery.

  6. I could imagine someday having a locked porch, catio style, and allowing amazon to remotely unlock that.

  7. NO, NO and NO. I do like the idea of a chest or locker for amazon/ups/fedex/usps to leave packages in. But access into my house, No Way!!!!!

  8. Ah, f.ck no. I’m not letting a random person into my house. If I want something to receive deliveries in, I’d put a big chest on the porch and leave it open for the delivery guy to put the parcel in and close – locking it.

    1. Far too easy.
      In the UK they’ll deliver to your local post office if you can’t have parcels delivered to work.

      1. Amazon has lockers everywhere in the UK these days. My parents live in Stratford-Upon-Avon and there are three separate locations with Amazon Lockers within 5 minutes walk of their house, and that doesn’t even include the one at their local supermarket.

        1. There are a bunch of lockers near me in Philadelphia, but they’re often full which means I can’t have items delivered to them.

          I’d totally be the target market for this service if we had an entryway that allowed me to grant delivery drivers access to the front door, but not the rest of the house.

          I guess I’ll just stick with my regular strategy of stressing out about missing a delivery every time I order something online. FedEx did recently let me start diverting incoming packages to a store that’s only a few minutes’ walk away. So if I’m expecting a package on a day that I know I won’t be home, it’s nice to have that option… but it obviously doesn’t work for packages being delivered by UPS, the US Postal Service, or LaserShip..

    2. Wait until the system gets hacked (when, not if). The liability for Amazon will be huge. I am amazed they are even trying this. The cameras outside not a big deal, but allowing them to open the front door? Crazy!

        1. Not freaking out because this is strictly voluntary. I just wonder how much money it will take to buy a bunch of unlock codes from a disgruntled Amazon employee.

          1. There’s no codes. It’s an app that only works on a per-delivery basis. When a delivery is expected, the app will let the driver unlock the door. But nobody else can do it, and that person can’t get in at any other time.

          2. You obviously haven’t dusted off your tinfoil hat in a while.
            😉

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