Now Alexa can help you microwave dinner

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Amazon wants to put Alexa in every room of your home — that much is clear. It’s the main reason the company offers the Echo in so many different form factors. The kitchen has been a key piece in that puzzle, but aside from some third-party refrigerators from companies like LG, Amazon hasn’t made too many inroad on that front.

Starting this week, however, Alexa’s learning to cook. Amazon just added cooking to its list of Smart Skill APIs, a feature that will initially play itself out on microwave ovens. The company has already been working with Whirlpool to bring the functionality to its line of microwaves. Those devices are currently listed as “coming soon” — so who knows, maybe we’ll even see some of them at CES next week.

The skills are pretty much what you’d expect out of an Alexa-enbabled microwave. Commands include things like  “Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken” and “Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high.” You can add time, trigger presets, change power modes and the like.

That feature is available to developers in the US now as an API, with more countries coming soon. Amazon will also be adding skills to get Alexa working with conventional ovens at some point in the future.

As for how practical the feature really is, it’s hard to say. Alexa can’t actually put the food in the microwave for you yet, so it’s really just saving you from pressing an extra couple of buttons. And, of course, when it comes to things like adding time, you really want to make sure you’re getting that voice input just right.

The bigger picture here, though, is Amazon’s continued move into the kitchen — heck, even the last big Echo event took place in a faux kitchen set up. The ability to view recipes on a screen was seen as a big selling point for the Echo Show. And hey, now that the company owns Whole Foods, Amazon’s got a vested interest in controlling the kitchen.

The company also took the opportunity to note that its Alexa Fund has invested in June Life, the makers of the smart June Oven, which already sports its own Alexa Skill.

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