That floor won’t clean itself…well, literally it won’t, especially if the robot vacuum you bought to clean the floor doesn’t jump off its dock when the servers are down.
Users started reporting issues with their Roomba app around noon on Friday. The status page of iRobot, the maker of Roomba, identified there were breakdowns with Amazon Web Services. The company said it was working with AWS engineers to resolve the issue, although at the time of reporting it, the problem was still not solved.
Roomba too tweeted about the problem, saying “some customers may have problems accessing the iRobot app”.
Server outages do happen, and this will of course cause issues with apps that rely on connectivity for most of the devices’ more robust features. The problem is when some users cannot access necessary features at all. A user reported that they can no longer stop their Roomba from doing its job because the parental lock features are only accessible in the app.
Gizmodo contacted iRobot for comment but did not immediately respond.
Other users have written to Gizmodo that although their Roombas can activate manually by pressing the “Clean” button, their devices are still effectively unusable because they cannot tell the vacuum to only do certain rooms or avoid debris in other parts of the house.
This is just another example of the tricky difficulties encountered when electronic devices require an internet connection to access necessary functionality. Is this inevitable as devices become more and more complicated? Maybe, but there’s an ever-present need for new models of any technology to introduce more features and more functionality, which means companies have to find more workarounds for their users if things go wrong.
It’s also a little ironic that iRobot is having trouble with Amazon servers just weeks after the online retail giant announced it was buy the company for nearly $1.7 billion. Consumer rights groups are already angry at the deal, saying Amazon was anti-competitive by buying out its competitors in the household cleaning market.