Roomba robotic vacuums have been powered by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands for a while, and now Apple’s Siri is joining the party. Today, iRobot announced native Siri Shortcut integration for its line of vacuums and mops, joining roborock as one of the few manufacturers of smart vacuum cleaners that work with Apple’s voice assistant.
The update is part of iRobot’s version 4.0 of its iRobot Genius Home Intelligence software, which was described by CEO Colin Angle at its launch in 2020 as “a lobotomy and replacement for the intelligence systems in all our robots.”
The release of Genius 4.0 includes about a half-dozen new features for the company’s Roomba robotic vacuums and Braava Jet robotic mops. In addition to Siri support and adding smart mapping to its lowest priced self-emptying vacuum, the i3the software update will bring room-specific cleaning preferences, a Do Not Disturb feature, and a child and pet lock option.
Along with new software updates, Roomba i3 EVO and i3 Plus get $50 off the price, dropping to $349 for the i3 and $549 for the i3 Plus (the Plus indicates that the model comes with a self-emptying charging base that scoops the dirt out of the robot’s bin for you).
Siri voice commands will initially be limited to start, stop, pause, resume, and send home. This means there are no room-specific cleaning commands, which are available with the other voice assistants. But iRobot’s Ryan Schneider says the edge More commands are coming. It’s a native integration into the iRobot app, so you can set up voice commands without using Apple’s Shortcuts app.
Another feature that will bring Roomba’s software up to speed with competitors like Roborock is room-specific cleaning preferences. With any smart mapping robot (including the s9, j7 and i3 vacuum cleaners and the braava jet m6 mop), users can now determine exactly how each room or zone will be cleaned.
For example, you can set the vacuum to make two passes in the hallway but only one in the guest bedroom. And for models with different levels of suction (like the s9), you can select the intensity you use room by room.
For the Braava Jet m6 robot mop, you will be able to choose between three levels of liquid dispensing and three levels of “mop overlap”. This determines how close the robot mop gets to where it previously cleaned; a looser mopping pattern provides a lighter, faster clean, and a tighter pattern with more overlap provides a deeper clean but takes longer.
Room-specific cleaning preferences can be set per job and saved for the next job. Users will also be able to individually customize preferences for scheduled jobs and favorite routines.
The Roomba j7, iRobot’s first robot vacuum that can intelligently identify and avoid certain objects to prevent common household clutter from holding you back, now it can identify more things. Genius 4.0 adds clothes and towels to the bot’s list of machine learning capabilities, matching shoes, socks, wires, headphones, and poop.
Roombas are also getting a child and pet lock capability (yes, apparently some dogs have figured out how to turn robot vacuums on and off) and a Do Not Disturb feature, so you or your sleeping family members won’t be woken up by a bot that decided to finish its work at 2am.
Software updates will be staggered in the coming months, with the intelligent mapping function of Roomba i3 rolling out now in the US and arriving worldwide at the end of the third quarter. The other updates are scheduled for release in late June 2022, except for Do Not Disturb, which is now available everywhere.