The new Roomba J7+ fixes one of the biggest issues with robot vacuums

The iRobot Roomba J7+ on its charging station in a hallway while a man with a dog enters the room
(Image credit: iRobot)

We all lead busy lives, which means finding time for household chores such as vacuuming can be difficult – and if you do have some downtime, the chances are you want to put your feet up and relax rather than clean your floors. 

This is where the best robot vacuums come in useful. You can outsource the chore to an appliance that makes its own way around your home, collecting dust and dirt from your floors and leaving you free to enjoy a well-earned rest.

However, there’s nothing more frustrating than when your peace is disturbed because the robot vacuum has started a cleaning session, and iRobot is hoping to put an end to this with the Roomba J7+, which uses your phone’s location to identify when you’ve gone out, and only then starts cleaning.

It can also detect when you’re about to walk through the door, and stop cleaning and retreat to its charging base, so it doesn’t get under your feet. 

The iRobot Roomba J7+ is priced at  $849 / £899 and is available in the UK and US now. The geolocation feature is one of several new functions in the iRobot Genius 3.0 software and is also being made available as an over-the-air update for the older Roomba S9+ and the Roomba i7+

 Getting smarter

Robot vacuums certainly make life easier, so it’s no surprise that they’ve grown in popularity over the past few years. According to market research firm Statista, the number of US households with a robot vacuum grew by 11% to 14.2 million in 2018, and 80% of those are made by Roomba. 

However, they can get in your way if they start cleaning when you’re still at home. I find there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to watch TV or join a Zoom meeting, only to be interrupted by my robot vacuum making its way around my floors – and I decide that I want to make a cup of tea or use the bathroom, I have to take care that I don’t get in the robot vacuum’s way. It’s enough to make me feel like an intruder in my home.

Depending on what model of robot vacuum you have, keeping out of its way is easier said than done, as while some take a methodical path when cleaning a room, others use a random cleaning pattern, which can leave you with no idea where they’re headed next. However, the new geolocation feature in the Roomba J7+ means  this is no longer a problem.

The J7+ also has AI built in, which can detect and identify obstacles, such as a charging cable left on the floor or a sock that’s escaped on its journey from the laundry basket to the washing machine. Rather than ploughing through the obstruction, and risking it getting tangled in the brush roller, the J7+ will navigate around the item, cleaning as close to it as possible. Its onboard camera will also snap a picture and alert you in the app, enabling you  to identify the item so that you can instruct the cleaner whether or not it should continue to avoid it. 

This puts an end to the issue of having to wrestle items out of the brush bar, and we think it’s a feature that all robot vacuums should have in order to make them genuinely smart appliances – along with, of course, a geolocation feature so that you never have to feel like you’re intruding on your vacuum’s hectic schedule. 

Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.