Amazon Key Lets Delivery People in Your House: Is It Safe?

Amazon wants to help people get into your house when you're not at home. And the retail giant claims its approach will be secure.

Credit: Amazon

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon today (Oct. 25) unveiled the new Amazon Key, an exclusive for Amazon Prime subscribers. The service, which requires several hardware components to work, will allow delivery people to securely enter your home and deliver packages. You can also use Amazon Key to authorize certain people to get into your house, all while being monitored with the company's new Amazon Cloud Cam.

MORE: What Is Amazon Prime?

But is Amazon Key safe, and does it come with enough features to make it appealing? Here's what you need to know about Amazon's latest service.

What is Amazon Key?

Amazon Key is a new smart access technology developed by Amazon to allow you to invite people into your home without having to be there. Think of it like the technological equivalent of leaving a key under the mat. Only this time, people can only get in your house when you authorize it, and they'll do so with your smart lock technology.

How does Amazon envision Key working?

Amazon sees a few ways for this to work.

For one, Amazon thinks Key could be useful for delivery people, who instead of leaving your goods outside, can now slip them into your house. Amazon also believes it can be useful if you want to provide a handyman or other people who might be working on your house into the place without your supervision.

Do I need to be a Prime subscriber?

Yep. You'll need to have an Amazon Prime subscription.

What hardware is required?

Amazon Key requires a few things in order to work. For one, you're going to need the company's $120 Cloud Cam (Key Edition) indoor security camera. You'll also want to get an Amazon Key-compatible smart lock from companies like Kwikset or Yale. (Amazon has a guide on what's compatible.)

Finally, you'll need the Amazon Key app, which should be able to communicate with your Cloud Cam and the smart lock and give you full control over the door.

Expect the hardware to set you back $250 on top of that $99-a-year Prime membership.

MORE: 49 Best Amazon Alexa Skills

Where is Amazon Key available?

Amazon isn't offering Key just anywhere. Instead, the company says that the service will be available in select areas to start and then roll out to more locations as time goes on. You can go to the Amazon Key In-Home Kit page to see if your area qualifies.

What kind of door do I need?

Amazon Key works with standard deadbolts that are mounted separately from the handle. However, be aware that your door must be between 1-3/8-inch to 2 inches in thickness in order to work with the smart lock.

Where do I place the Cloud Cam?

Amazon says that Key users should place Cloud Cam is direct view of the door at which people will enter. Ideally, the company said that the Cloud Cam should be within 25 feet of the door.

Should I use Amazon Key with a pet?

Amazon is apparently worried your dog might run away. So no — Amazon doesn't recommend you use Key if your pet can access and run through the door.

What happens on delivery day?

When it's time for a package to be delivered, you'll receive a notification in the morning with a 4-hour delivery window. Before your driver gets to your door, you'll receive an "Arriving Now" alert that will allow you to see what's happening in real time.

Credit: Amazon

(Image credit: Amazon)

Once the driver is at your door, he or she will knock on your door and then place a request to unlock it with an Amazon-provided handheld scanner. Amazon will then ensure that the package belongs at your house and that the driver is near your door. Amazon will also turn on Cloud Cam and start recording.

If everything checks out, Amazon will unlock the door and give the driver access to your house to drop the package. The driver will alert Amazon to completing the delivery and will request the door be locked.

You will then receive a notification saying the door is locked, and you can watch the video clip to ensure everything went smoothly.

What's the Happiness Guarantee?

To allay some fears, Amazon is offering what it calls the "Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee." If for some reason the delivery wasn't completed to your satisfaction, Amazon will "work with you to correct the problem." Amazon will, however, need some proof and video from the delivery to verify whatever it is you might be claiming in the complaint.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.