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I love Amazon for making online shopping so easy. I now do most of my own shopping online. And, thanks to the hidden features of Amazon, I end up saving a ton of time and money every year. It’s even better when you throw in the core benefits of Prime and the newer benefits of Prime.
But there’s one thing I don’t recommend: Amazon Assistant. In this article, you’ll learn three things:
- What is Amazon Assistant?
- Why should you avoid using it?
- Which are the better alternatives you can use to mimic some of its best features?
What Is Amazon Assistant?
It was earlier called 1Button App. Now, Amazon Assistant is a browser extension and mobile app that aims to improve your overall online shopping experience. Its features include:
- Order Updates: As your Amazon orders progress from Ordered to Shipped to Delivered, you can get every update straight in the app in real-time.
- Price Comparisons: When shopping on other online retailer sites, get direct price comparisons for the same item on Amazon. This lets you get the best deals all the time, whether they’re on Amazon or elsewhere.
- Registries and Lists: One of Amazon’s best features is its wish lists and registries. With Amazon Assistant, you can even add items from other online retailers to your Amazon lists, thus keeping everything in one place and organized.
- Deal Alerts: Set up alerts on specific items and get browser alerts when the price goes down so you can snatch them up as soon as they’re affordable.
- Image Search: When shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you can snap photos of items or their barcodes to instantly arrive at that item’s Amazon page if it exists.
- Amazon Shortcuts: One-click navigation to popular Amazon pages, such as Your Orders, Your Lists, Today’s Deals, and Warehouse Deals.
These features are useful. But, there are some major drawbacks to consider before hopping aboard the Amazon Assistant train.
Why You Should Avoid Amazon Assistant
The primary reason to avoid Amazon Assistant is concerns over privacy. We highly recommend reading the Amazon Assistant Conditions of Use, wherein you’ll find this chunk of text:
“The Amazon Assistant collects and stores information based on your interactions with and use of the features of the Amazon Assistant. For example, if you use the Amazon Assistant to add a product to your Amazon Wishlist or use the Product Comparison feature . . . we will collect and store information such as . . . your Amazon account, your search query, and other information necessary to . . . show you related Amazon products.”
Followed by this bit of text:
“In some cases, we may associate that information with your identity and Amazon account information.”
And that’s not all:
“The Amazon Assistant may also collect information about the websites you view when you are not interacting with the Amazon Assistant, but we do not associate that information with your Amazon account or identify it with you except as required by law.”
What kind of information?
“Examples of the information we collect and analyze include . . . full URL of the Web page you are visiting . . . [and] other identifying alphanumerical information enabling Amazon to identify your computer . . .”
And the last bit of concerning conditions:
“Amazon may make available third party applications and services as part of the Amazon Assistant . . . and using these third party applications and services may result in you sending information to such third parties.”
So what does this all mean?
Amazon makes it clear that they are collecting information on your browsing habits at all times, both when interacting with Amazon Assistant and when you aren’t. When third-party services are involved, your habits will likely be collected by them as well. As of now, it’s impossible to know what third parties may or may not be involved.
The non-Amazon Assistant-related information isn’t currently associated with your Amazon account, but Amazon is collecting it — and who knows how they might use it in the future? It wouldn’t require much effort at all to eventually connect all of this information together.
Learn more about how much information Amazon collects on you.
Another big reason to avoid Amazon Assistant: scummy tactics to increase its exposure and adoption rate. Back in 2016, Oracle (the current developers of Java) began bundling Amazon Assistant as part of the Java 8 installer, which not only installed Amazon Assistant but also changed browser homepages and search engines to Amazon Smart Search.
Bundleware is one of the most annoying practices today and is one of the main reasons why we recommend avoid downloading software from some sites. The fact that Amazon would stoop this low for Amazon Assistant leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Better Alternatives to Amazon Assistant
The truth is, you can replicate most of Amazon Assistant’s features with a hodgepodge of other tools and services that won’t harvest your web browsing habits and information. It may not be as convenient as having it all in one single app, but we think the trade-off is worth it.
For Order Updates
You can track your Amazon orders in three ways:
- Through Amazon.com on the Your Orders page. Click Track Package after it’s delivered to get shipping tracking information, which is often done through USPS.
- Through the shipping company. For example, once the package is shipped and if it’s done through USPS, you can enter the tracking number on the USPS site and then sign up to receive email or SMS updates as shipping progresses.
- Through the Amazon Shopping mobile app (Android and iOS). If you enable it in the settings, the app will push notifications whenever an order’s status changes.
With these options, you’ll never have to wonder where your new Amazon Fire Stick is again!
For Price Comparisons
You have different options for price comparisons whether you prefer to do them in a desktop browser or on your mobile device.
For desktop browsers, we recommend Google Shopping. If you have similar concerns about privacy with Google, use sites like PriceRunner and ShopBot (Australia). See more options in our roundup of the best price comparison websites.
For mobile devices, we recommend ShopSavvy (Android and iOS). What’s nice about ShopSavvy is its barcode scan feature: use your device’s camera to snap any item’s barcode and ShopSavvy will instantly pull up online price comparisons for it. Not a fan? See more options in our roundup of the best price comparison mobile apps.
For Deal Alerts
Arguably the most useful feature, price notifications can save you a ton of money with practically zero effort. But if you can’t rely on Amazon Assistant, where else can you go?
Despite its weird name, CamelCamelCamel is the best tool to use. Take any Amazon product URL and paste it into CamelCamelCamel’s search box to see a complete history of its price. You can set an alert for when the price drops below a certain threshold. You can also see its lowest and highest prices ever, which can let you know if you’re getting a deal or not.
How Do You Shop Online?
Online shopping has evolved quite a bit over the last decade, and it’s still changing even as we speak. Be sure to catch up on these essential online shopping terms as well as these alternative online retailers that aren’t Amazon.
More than that, here are a few more things to bear in mind when shopping online: how to avoid impulsive shopping behavior, common online shopping traps, and tricks that’ll help you spend less money online. Left unchecked, online shopping can be a huge money sink!
What do you think of Amazon Assistant? What about Amazon in general? How do you prefer to shop online? Share with us down in the comments below!