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Amazon’s Smart Oven Is Like a Regular Oven, but You Need an App to Use It

Alexa, make my kitchen more complicated

A smart oven, that looks like a microwave, on an indoor kitchen counter
Amazon’s new “Smart Oven”
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Ahh, the kitchen of the future. So tempting, so sleek, so Bradburian, and ultimately so filled with appliances that create more problems than they solve. Take the latest addition: Amazon’s Smart Oven, which looks like an expensive microwave. At an event today, reporter Mike Murphy tweeted that Amazon is introducing an oven which, using an app, can scan prepackaged foods, including those from Whole Foods (which is owned by Amazon), and program itself to cook them properly.

Let’s just take a moment to unpack that. Say you’re not the greatest home chef, so you buy a frozen tray of saag paneer at Whole Foods for dinner. Right now, your dinner probably consists of three steps:

  1. Read the instructions, which tell you what temperature to set your oven or microwave to.
  2. Press a button to set your oven or microwave to that temperature.
  3. Put in your food in.
  4. Set a timer and wait.

It seems pretty easy! But lo, Amazon insists it could be easier, by following a new, “smart” set of steps:

  1. Download an app.
  2. Scan your food, making sure it’s one of the products that can pair with your Smart Oven.
  3. If it’s not one of the products that can pair with your Smart Oven, preheat your oven the way you would have before.
  4. Put your food in and wait for the oven to announce it’s done.

Though “Alexa will announce when to stir the food during cooking and let you know when it’s finished,” this is far from a “set it and forget it” deal. It sounds, weirdly, more complicated the current way of, or at least equally complicated but now with unfamiliar steps. Even if you’re a garbage cook, setting an oven temperature is probably not where you are going wrong.

The Amazon Smart Oven will also work as an air fryer, food warmer, and convection oven, so it’s not entirely without new appeal. But certain elements of it, like so much in the tech world, are solving problems that maybe don’t exist, and creating new problems in its wake. Voice controls for appliances are great for those with motor-skill disabilities that make it difficult to push buttons or turn knobs, but the Smart Oven doesn’t have onboard voice detection—you need a separate Alexa device to operate it, and a smartphone to use the app, and it still has all the buttons of a regular oven.

Though Amazon also announced that you’ll soon be able to ask Alexa to delete what you’ve said, if you trust Amazon with your privacy, they also would gladly sell you a bridge on Prime. So maybe just learn to use the oven that came with your apartment. Until Alexa becomes a functioning robot maid like Rosie from The Jetsons (and then, inevitably, a rebel like the robot in Ex Machina), Amazon doesn’t need to know how many frozen burritos anyone eats.