Amazon’s four-year dalliance with plastic “BUY! BUY! BUY!” buttons appears to finally be coming to a close.
The Amazon Dash line of physical, Internet-connected buttons, which allowed customers to purchase (usually for around $ 5 a pop) one-tap restocking of home staples like snacks, toiletries, and laundry supplies, will stop functioning altogether on August 31. This follows Amazon’s decision to stop selling the buttons in February of this year, despite being so bullish about the concept that it was selling over 100 brands’ worth of Dash buttons by 2016.
In a statement to Cnet, Amazon justified its plans by saying that consumer use of the devices “has significantly slowed” since the retailer stopped offering them as a buyable option. In addition, Amazon points to ways that consumers can exert even less energy to buy stuff, particularly via Internet-connected appliances that leverage Amazon’s Dash Replenishment API to reup on supplies when a device suspects something is running low. (We’re kind of sad that Amazon didn’t just sell consumers a robot that would automatically trot up to your existing Dash buttons and tap them on your behalf, but, alas.) Meanwhile, if you really crave tapping a single, colorful button to get more boxes of macaroni and cheese, Amazon still offers a digital facsimile in the form of a virtual Dash Buttons interface from either Amazon’s home page or shopping app.
What, then, should consumers do with any physical buttons they have stuck next to their appliances or kitchen counters, or collecting dust in drawers? Why, hack them!
Existing Dash buttons come packed with everything you need to send a basic command via a Wi-Fi protocol (though little else). As enterprising users discovered shortly after the line’s 2015 launch, that command can be customized. The catch is that the whole process begins with Amazon’s general shopping app, available for iOS and Android devices, to set the Dash button up for its intended use as a shopping device—and there’s no guarantee that Amazon’s app will continue supporting this first step beyond the end of August 2019.
As this 2015 Medium guide explains, once you’ve finished that first step of the setup process, and thus fed your local router information to the button, you can stop and delete the Amazon app and get to work. From that point, the rest of the guide walks you through the steps necessary to turn your ancient Dash button into a general-use IFTTT (If This Then That) device, which revolves in part around discovering the button’s MAC address. (The guide at one point points users to a dead URL for IFTTT’s Maker Webhooks service, which you can now find here, but it’s otherwise current enough.)
What will you use leftover Dash buttons for? Beats us. But anything has to be better than pressing the thing and not getting a massive carton of Doritos as expected.