- Amazon on Wednesday unveiled the Echo Dot Kids Edition, an $US80 Echo Dot in a durable case that comes with built-in parental controls, called FreeTime.
- FreeTime is already available on Amazon’s Kids Fire tablet, but Amazon is adding it to the Echo for the first time.
- FreeTime lets parents set parental controls, but the feature also changes the way Alexa talks to be more kid-friendly, adds games and audio books to the device, and helps teach kids better manners.
There’s a new Amazon Echo – and it’s meant specifically for kids.
Starting Wednesday, Amazon will offer the Echo Dot Kids Edition: an Echo Dot in a colourful, durable case. It comes with a two-year guarantee and a free year of Amazon’s parental control feature, FreeTime Unlimited.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition – which has all the same internals as a standard Echo Dot – costs $US80. The device is available for preorder starting Wednesday and will start shipping May 9.
The new Echo Dot is modelled off the success of another Amazon kids device – the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet. Much like the tablet, the new Echo Dot has a protective “kid-proof” case that comes in red, green, or blue. The device will also come with a two-year guarantee, which means that if your child breaks it, you can send the device back to Amazon and they will replace it.
What makes the Kids Edition Echo Dot different from previous devices is that is comes with FreeTime, Amazon’s parental control feature, which will also be available for full-size Echo devices and the Echo Plus.
FreeTime lets parents set time limits on how long kids can use the Echo, filter out explicit song lyrics, and add educational or kid-friendly content to the device.
Turning on FreeTime also changes the way Alexa talks. The FreeTime version of Alexa speaks in a more kid-friendly way, giving longer, more detailed answers to questions like, “What’s a galaxy?” and using a less mature vocabulary.
And since FreeTime is aimed at kids ages 5 to 12, Alexa can even listen for speech impediments and will wake to “Owexa” for kids who have trouble saying the letter “L” in “Alexa.”
One more cool new feature: Alexa will now listen for the word “please,” and praise kids for asking questions nicely. If kids say, “Alexa, can you please tell me what’s five plus seven,” Alexa will respond, “Five plus seven equals 12. By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.”
There’s a free version of FreeTime for Alexa, or families can buy an unlimited plan starting at $US3 per month for Prime members. Anyone who buys the Echo Dot Kids Edition will get a free year of FreeTime Unlimited.
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