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iRobot’s entry-level Roombas offer app control on the cheap

iRobot is bringing Wi-Fi connectivity to its cheaper Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. The company is unveiling two new models today, the 690 and 890, which sit below its top-of-the-line 960 and 980 machines. Unlike the 650 and 860 — its previous low-end robots — they can be controlled through the iRobot Home app. That means you customise their cleaning schedule, check their “cleaning status” and access customer support from any Android or iOS device. The Roomba 690 goes on sale today for $375 in the US — the same price as the 650 it’s replacing. The Roomba 890, meanwhile, will be out in “late Q2” for a yet-to-be-confirmed price.

As promised, iRobot is also adding Alexa support for its Wi-Fi connected cleaners. So if you have an Amazon Echo hooked up in your home, you can start, stop or dock the robot with voice alone. The “skill” is enabled by barking “Alexa, open Roomba,” or by selecting the Roomba skill inside the Alexa app. It’s a small, but neat trick that Neato, one of iRobot’s biggest competitors, introduced for its own cleaners late last year. For now, the Roomba integration is exclusive to the US — here’s hoping it’s available internationally when the 690 and 890 launch outside North America.

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