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Amazon's new Echo Dot Kids smart speaker transforms Alexa into a digital nanny
- Amazon launches Echo Dot smart speaker variant for kids with a protective case and two-year guarantee.
- Echo Dot Kids Edition priced at $79 available or pre-order ahead of May 9 shipping date.
- FreeTime service launched with improved parental controls and tweaked Alexa features.
Amazon has revealed a sort-of-new Echo device designed for a younger audience. Available for pre-order from today ahead of a full launch on May 9, the Echo Dot Kids Edition is priced at $79 and comes with a year’s free premium subscription to Amazon’s new FreeTime parental controls service.
Let’s start off with the ‘new’ device, which comes in red, blue, or green. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Fire Kids Edition series, you already know what to expect — it’s a regular Echo Dot with a brightly-colored rubber cover to protect against bumps and bruises (on the device and children). Amazon is also pledging to replace that it will replace any Echo Dot Kids Edition device if it gets damaged within the first two years of purchase, reports The Verge.
You can read more about the Echo Dot here, but in short, it’s a miniaturized version of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker line equipped with the e-commerce giant’s digital assistant, Alexa.
As with the regular model, which retails for slightly less at $49, the Echo Dot Kids can also be connected to other Bluetooth speakers for an improved audio experience.
So what makes the Echo Dot Kids worth an extra $30, aside from the protective case and new packaging? That’d be the FreeTime service, which Amazon says will also be available for other Echo devices at an added premium in the near future.
There are two tiers to FreeTime, one free and the other starting at $2.99 for anyone with a Prime subscription, but both basically transform Alexa into a kid-friendly assistant for children aged between 5 and 12 years old.
On a basic level, FreeTime limits certain Alexa features such as shopping, smart home commands, and any third-party skills, while also adding parental controls for restricting how many hours a child can access Alexa per day. There’s a dashboard with options for limiting access to specific songs and audiobooks too.
The major change, however, is to Alexa, whose feature set has been altered to suit a younger user-base. With FreeTime active, Alexa will deliver longer, more detail responses to queries, but with a simpler vocabulary. Amazon has also tweaked Alexa’s voice recognition to understand mispronunciations. Another fantastic addition is “Magic Word,” which prompts Alexa to dish out praise whenever the user says “please” following a request.
For the premium tier, dubbed FreeTime Unlimited, Amazon is offering access to over 300 child-friendly Audible audiobooks, custom alarms and Alexa skills from Disney, Nickelodeon, and more, as well as ad-free access to iHeartRadio Family.
You can pre-order an Echo Dot Kids Edition via the button below. Let us know your thoughts on the kid-friendly smart speaker in the comments!