Amazon Debuts ‘Instant Pickup’ for Ordering and Picking Up Items in Under Two Minutes

In its ongoing push into retail, Amazon today announced the opening of five "Instant Pickup" locations in the United States, allowing Prime subscribers to choose from a selection of "daily essentials" that are made available for pick up in two minutes or less (via Reuters). The essential items include snacks, drinks, electronics, and Amazon's own devices.


The Instant Pickup process begins with Prime and Prime Student users visiting Amazon's iOS or Android app to browse through hundreds of essential and daily care items. Users can then place an order, decide on an Instant Pickup location, and then go to the retail store to pick it up from a self-service locker.

On the employee side of things, when users place an order someone at the Instant Pickup store gathers the items in a back room, and then places them within one of the numbered lockers. After customers place their order, they're given the number to the locker and a barcode to access its contents at the Instant Pickup store.
“Instant Pickup is another way Amazon is making life more convenient for Prime members,” said Ripley MacDonald, Director, Student Programs, Amazon. “As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster. Whether it’s a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time. While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”
Amazon is launching Instant Pickup as an expansion to five of its established pickup locations in Los Angeles; Atlanta; Berkeley, California; Columbus, Ohio; and College Park, Maryland. More pickup shops will be getting Instant Pickup in the coming months.

For those near one of the locations who want to try out Instant Pickup, Amazon advises users to update their Amazon iOS app to version 9.15 [Direct Link], and then look for Instant Pickup in "Programs and Features." The new service is a free addition to any Prime or Prime Student membership.

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‘Amazon Pay Places’ Lets You Make Real-World Purchases, Starting with TGI Friday’s Pickup Orders

Amazon today announced a new feature coming to its iOS and Android apps called "Amazon Pay Places," which will let users pay for in store items and order ahead meals using the payment information saved in their Amazon accounts (via TechCrunch).

Amazon is opening up the feature with a small scale launch, however, and only enabling pay-ahead food orders through one restaurant, TGI Friday's, at locations in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


To use Amazon Pay Places, users on the Amazon iOS mobile app can tap on the hamburger icon to find "Programs and Features" in the navigation tab, where Amazon Pay Places will be located. When tapped, users will be able to browse TGI Friday's menu, place an order, and pay directly within the app.
Amazon is today introducing a new feature called Amazon Pay Places, that allows customers to pay for in-store and order ahead shopping experiences using their Amazon app. That is, instead of using cash, check, credit or debit while shopping out in the real world, you can just use your Amazon account information instead.
According to TechCrunch, Amazon Pay Places will eventually encompass multiple in-store and "physical world" retail applications in the future, placing the Amazon iOS app as more of a potential Apple Pay competitor than the initial launch's focus on ordering ahead. Amazon didn't mention when new partners will be announced for Pay Places, or when the feature might launch in markets outside of the United States, where it will currently only be supported.

Amazon Pay Places is an expansion on the company's current "Amazon Pay" checkout option, which allows retailers to place a button on their websites to give users an easy checkout option, similar to PayPal. With Pay Places, the company is now looking to slowly expand the use cases of Amazon Pay out into stores and restaurants in the real world, although it remains unclear how such in-store transactions will work.

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‘Amazon Pay Places’ Lets You Make Real-World Purchases, Starting with TGI Friday’s Pickup Orders

Amazon today announced a new feature coming to its iOS and Android apps called "Amazon Pay Places," which will let users pay for in store items and order ahead meals using the payment information saved in their Amazon accounts (via TechCrunch).

Amazon is opening up the feature with a small scale launch, however, and only enabling pay-ahead food orders through one restaurant, TGI Friday's, at locations in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


To use Amazon Pay Places, users on the Amazon iOS mobile app can tap on the hamburger icon to find "Programs and Features" in the navigation tab, where Amazon Pay Places will be located. When tapped, users will be able to browse TGI Friday's menu, place an order, and pay directly within the app.
Amazon is today introducing a new feature called Amazon Pay Places, that allows customers to pay for in-store and order ahead shopping experiences using their Amazon app. That is, instead of using cash, check, credit or debit while shopping out in the real world, you can just use your Amazon account information instead.
According to TechCrunch, Amazon Pay Places will eventually encompass multiple in-store and "physical world" retail applications in the future, placing the Amazon iOS app as more of a potential Apple Pay competitor than the initial launch's focus on ordering ahead. Amazon didn't mention when new partners will be announced for Pay Places, or when the feature might launch in markets outside of the United States, where it will currently only be supported.

Amazon Pay Places is an expansion on the company's current "Amazon Pay" checkout option, which allows retailers to place a button on their websites to give users an easy checkout option, similar to PayPal. With Pay Places, the company is now looking to slowly expand the use cases of Amazon Pay out into stores and restaurants in the real world, although it remains unclear how such in-store transactions will work.

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Amazon is Reportedly Readying a New Messaging Platform Called ‘Anytime’

Amazon is reportedly working on bringing a new mobile messaging platform to the table, according to customer survey details obtained by AFTVnews.

The chat service for iOS, Android, and desktop is said to be called "Anytime" and will include typical messaging features like encryption, video and voice calling, but with some novel touches added to the mix that suggest social network-style aspirations for the app.


For example, it looks as if Anytime users will only need to use a name – as opposed to a phone number, à la WhatsApp – to link themselves and invite others to the service, although its not entirely clear how this will work. There's also talk of Twitter-like @ mentions to involve users in conversation threads or to share photos.

Elsewhere in Amazon's customer survey information are references to additional features such as the ability to color code conversations, play games, order food together, split a bill, location sharing, and group music listening. Users will also apparently be able to chat with businesses through the service, make reservations, check on orders, and even shop, with sensitive content like bank details protected by encryption.

It's possible Anytime will be powered by Chime, Amazon's chat service for enterprise users that it launched earlier in the year. There's also potential scope for Alexa integration – given that the company recently launched messaging and calling features for Alexa devices, it could benefit from separating out these functions in a separate app.

There's no word on when the Anytime service might launch, but Amazon will have to show it can offer something genuinely fresh and appealing if it expects to convince longtime users of rival platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to jump ship.

Whatever its plans, Amazon clearly isn't resting on its laurels in the hardware and connected services spaces. Earlier this week it emerged that Amazon is actively developing a redesigned Echo speaker to compete with Apple's forthcoming HomePod. Both smart devices are expected to launch later this year.


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Amazon’s Annual Prime Day Kicks Off With Deals on Apple Products and Accessories

Amazon's third annual "Prime Day" has just kicked off, with Amazon offering 30 hours of "epic 'day of' deals on everything you're into." Deals will change continually over the course of the next day, and Amazon is expected to offer discounts on a range of products, including Apple devices and accessories.

The products that are discounted will be a surprise until each "Lightning" sale kicks off, so it's best to keep a close eye on Amazon's site if you're interested in a specific product. Some of the best deals can also sell out fast, so we won't be able to share all of the available deals, but we'll try to tweet some of the best discounts.


Amazon plans to organize deals around more than 20 themes, like pet lovers, gardeners, techies, artists, and more, which should make it easy to track down the products you're looking for.

Prime Day will last from July 10 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time to July 11 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. Prime Day deals will be available in 13 countries, including the United States, UK, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Japan, India, France, Germany, China, Canada, Belgium, and Austria. A Prime membership is required to take advantage of the deals.

Along with Amazon, many major retailers will be offering discounts on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other Apple accessories this week, including Best Buy, Adorama, and B&H Photo. For the best prices on Apple products, make sure to check out our Deals Roundup, which has comprehensive price charts available.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner of Amazon and the other above-listed sites. When you make a purchase using one of our links, we receive a small commission, which helps keep the site running.

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Amazon Announces Third Annual ‘Prime Day’ for July 11

Following the debut of "Prime Day" in 2015, and its return in 2016, Amazon this morning announced the third annual Prime Day will arrive next month, on July 11. Amazon calls this year's event an "epic day of deals on everything you're into," and like previous iterations you'll have to be subscribed to Amazon Prime to gain access to the discounts.

Prime Day is expanding this year as well, beginning officially on July 10 at 6 PM PT and lasting a total of 30 hours into July 11, with "new deals as often as every five minutes." Additionally, Amazon has expanded the sale to 13 total countries in 2017, including the U.S., U.K., Spain, Mexico, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria.


To give a spotlight on small businesses throughout Prime Day, Amazon said that nearly 40 percent of the Lightning Deals that appear during the event will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Our members love Prime Day and we have been thrilled by the response over the last two years. It is inspiring us to make it even better this year for Prime members,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President, Amazon Prime. “Every part of our business is working to deliver more deals for a record number of shoppers. This year’s Prime Day is too big for 24 hours – so we’re giving Prime members 30 hours to shop!”
Deals will be organized by more than 20 themes, including topics like pet lovers, gardeners, techies, artists, and more, so shoppers can quickly find items that they're interested in. To entice users to engage with Alexa devices, Amazon is introducing even more Alexa-exclusive deals discoverable through Echo devices and Fire Tablets.


Similar to last year, Amazon is touting its TV deals in 2017, saying that a large variety of brands will be sold on Prime Day and specifically naming the new Element 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - Amazon Fire TV Edition. Amazon said that Prime Day 2017 will represent "one of its largest volume TV deals in history," with a record amount of inventory, but Amazon reminded shoppers the TV category is the one likely to sell out the fastest.

To prepare, Amazon encourages shoppers to visit the Amazon app on iOS [Direct Link] to preview, track, shop deals, and set up alerts. Leading up to July 11, the company is also offering discounts on various subscriptions and items across the website every day, and starting today that includes discounts related to Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Video, Kindle Unlimited, Audible, and Prime Pantry items. More information about the items on sale now can be found on Amazon's Prime Day webpage.


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Amazon Echo Show Reviews: Privacy Concerns, Sound Improvements, and Video Calling as Killer App

Ahead of the launch of the Echo Show this Wednesday, June 28, Amazon has given review units to a few sites so that they can test out the new Echo and see how its 7-inch touch screen adds to the traditional Amazon Echo experience. Amazon revealed the $230 Echo Show earlier in May and bills it as having all of the features of the traditional Echo, with the addition of a display to enhance user interactivity.

According to The Verge, one of the best aspects of Echo Show is that, "you basically never need to tap the screen for anything, unless you really want to." Instead of adding an array of touchscreen-required actions that overcomplicate the interface, the company focused on adapting the abilities of the previous Echo models to work with a touchscreen.


While there were some moments when the touchscreen's "secondary importance" caused UI annoyances, the site largely admired Amazon's decision to keep the voice control focus of the Echo line with Echo Show.
Are there things I don't love about the Echo Show? Of course. I think it's pretty homely and I think that the sound quality could be better for the price. But the improvements over the original Echo are big enough that it's my favorite smart speaker right now.

From nearly any other company, adding a screen would have resulted in feature-itis of the worst kind. By holding back, the Echo Show feels like it does more. Its strength is in its simplicity.
In its review, TechCrunch described Echo Show's video calling feature as the "killer app" for many users, allowing calls between two Echo Show devices, or between an Echo Show and the Alexa smartphone app. After entering a phone number, the Echo Show displays a list of other Echo owners from your own personal contact list, and from there you can directly call their Echo.

Image via The Verge

The site noted that the screen is far too small for long movie sessions (currently only supporting video from Amazon Prime), and described its resolution as "middling," but in video calls the Echo Show's 7-inch touchscreen makes the most sense. Still, both TechCrunch and The Verge did find Echo Show's "Drop In" feature slightly intrusive, as it lets selected friends and family pop into your Echo Show and see your home whenever they feel like it, but it's not activated by default.
It’s a lot easier to use than Skype (though, to be fair, most things in this life are), but it’s currently limited to Show users, which means Amazon is going to sell a lot of these to family members looking for a simple way to keep in touch. There’s also an odd Drop-In option, which takes the whole picking-up-the-phone bit out of the equation, so select friends and family can communicate directly with little warning. I suppose there’s some value for users looking to periodically check in on loved ones, but the whole thing is too intrusive for my tastes.
Wired also referenced worry about Echo Show's always-watching camera, but ultimately sees potential in the device's future, particularly once Amazon begins adding in more "skills" for the Echo Show. The site continued an opinion shared in multiple reviews posted today, which is that the Echo Show's speaker is better than that of the original Echo's, but "it's no Sonos."
Still, I find the Show’s potential fascinating. The Alexa ecosystem has grown big enough that I suspect Netflix and Hulu will soon make video skills, most smart-home manufacturers will support the new device, and games and apps will pop up all over the place. Alexa’s voice recognition works well enough to make all of this work, and developers can access the camera, the screen, the microphone, and the speaker. The Echo Show is basically an always-on, plugged-in smartphone, which could become hugely powerful.
Amazon's Echo Show is the latest in the company's line of smart speaker systems, following the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Look. Apple is gearing up to finally enter the same market, with an announcement at WWDC this year for the "HomePod." Apple said that its speaker is more focused on high-quality music playback than its smart speaker rivals, while also offering Siri-based AI features.

Check out more Echo Show reviews from the following sites:
- Business Insider
- Buzzfeed
- CNET
- Engadget
- TIME
- Bloomberg
- Gizmodo
- USA Today
- SlashGear
- The New York Times


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Amazon Updates Alexa Devices With Apple iCloud Calendar Integration

Amazon today announced that users will now be able to sync their iCloud Calendar information with devices that support Amazon's smart assistant Alexa. With the update, users can ask Alexa what's coming up on their calendar, or issue commands so new appointments are added to the schedule. Anything added from an Amazon device is then synced with iCloud and added to the Calendar app on iOS and macOS devices.

To sync an iCloud account with Alexa, the company said that customers will have to sign in to their Apple account within the settings tab of the Alexa iOS app. Users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany will gain access to the new update beginning today, representing the current countries where Alexa is available.

Starting today, you can now link your Apple iCloud Calendar to Alexa. To do this, iCloud Calendar customers can simply link their account in the settings tab in the Alexa app. Once linked, just say, “Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?” or “Alexa, add lunch with Sarah at noon to my calendar.”

iCloud Calendar support has been a top requested feature from Alexa customers, and we’re thrilled to bring this to Alexa devices in US, UK and Germany today.
With the inclusion of Apple's Calendar, Alexa device users now have access to five total calendar services, also including accounts for G Suite, Google/Gmail, Office 365 users with Exchange Online mailboxes, and Outlook.com.

Alexa is available in a variety of hardware devices sold by Amazon, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Look, and new Echo Show, as well as on the Amazon Alexa iOS app [Direct Link].

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Amazon Launches New Fire tablets With Built-in Alexa in U.S. and U.K.

Amazon yesterday refreshed its low-cost tablet range and brought its Alexa voice assistant to Fire tablets in the U.K. for the first time.

The new thinner and lighter $50/£50 Fire 7 boasts an improved 7-inch 1024x600 IPS screen with higher contrast and sharper text, up to 8 hours' battery life, and more storage than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the new $80/£80 Fire HD 8 features a larger 8-inch 1280x800 display and up to 12 hours of battery life.


Both devices pack a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, 2-megapixel VGA front and rear cameras, dual-band WiFi, and Alexa voice assistant, which comes as a new feature for tablets sold in the United Kingdom.

Amazon claims its new Fire models are more hard-wearing than Apple's iPads. Even so, the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are also available in Kids Editions, for £100/$100 and £130/$130 respectively, which come with a large rubber protective case and a two-year "worry-free" guarantee, as well as more storage, parental controls, no adverting or in-app purchases, and a one-year subscription to Fire for kids unlimited.

With its low-cost, feature-rich offerings, Amazon has managed to buck the trend in a tablet market in which even market-leading brands like Apple have struggled to convince consumers to upgrade to the latest devices. While iPad sales have declined for 13 consecutive quarters, Fire sales have generally improved, seeing double-digit growth in its media-positioned tablets. The Fire 7 has proved particularly popular among parents who want a device for their kids but aren't willing to risk paying a premium price.

The Amazon Fire 7 and HD 8 tablets are available to pre-order now and due to ship on June 7. Amazon will roll out Alexa to more of its Fire tablet devices in the U.K. in June through a software update.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon.

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Apple to Announce Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV at WWDC

Apple plans to make a major Apple TV announcement at WWDC that should delight Amazon Prime subscribers - the addition of an Amazon Prime Video app for the Apple TV.

The news comes courtesy of BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, who often accurately shares details on Apple's plans ahead of events. According to Paczkowski, sources of Apple's plans say the company will announce an Amazon Prime Video app during its keynote event.

There are tentative plans for the app to go live in the summer, but its official release date could change.


With Amazon Prime Video on the Apple TV, Amazon also plans to resume offering the Apple TV through Amazon.com. Amazon stopped offering the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast in 2015, citing Amazon Prime Video incompatibility as the reason why. It is not known when the Apple TV will return to the Amazon website.

News of a potential deal between Apple and Amazon that would see the app made available on the Apple TV first surfaced last week. At the time, Apple and Amazon were said to be close to an agreement, and now an agreement has been reached.

Amazon Prime Video is one of the only major streaming video services that is currently absent from the Apple TV, and Apple TV owners have long wanted to see the Prime Video app on Apple's device.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10, WWDC 2017
Tags: Amazon, Amazon Prime Video
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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