Amazon has been busy launching a number of new Alexa-enabled devices, and Echo speakers of different shapes and form factors. The idea is to offer consumers a family of devices that can find their place within various corners of the home. Speaking of family, the company has just added a new member to the Echo lineup, the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition.
But what makes the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition different from a normal Echo Dot? Good question.
Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition (3drd gen) – A kids first approach
The new puck-sized Echo is the same shape and size as the two-year-old second-gen Echo Dot, albeit with a “kid-friendly” protective case around it to save it from drops and rough-housing. The cases come in colors including ranbow, and Amazon is providing a two-year worry-free guarantee, so they’ll replace it for free in case something does happen.
You might wonder why you ‘d need a protective case for something that is designed to stay stationary on a desk. And if you’re wondering that, you’ve clearly never dealt with a toddler or a preschooler. They’ll grab/throw/drop just about anything just for the fun of it.
While the outside of the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition is largely unchanged from its predecessor, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Part of what makes this a “Kids Edition” is the inclusion of parental controls via one year of free access to FreeTime Unlimited. The service gives adults a suite of parental controls to help manage their children’s usage. This service also includes the ability to filter out explicit songs with Amazon Music, and disables voice-shopping to give parents additional peace of mind.
The new Dot will also come with ad-free radio stations and playlists for kids, over 300 audio books, and kid-specific skills from companies like Disney and Nickelodeon. All of this included for one year, but after that you’ll have to pay $2.99 a month (or more, if you have multiple kids).
Old Dog New Tricks
Amazon states that the FreeTime service has been optimized to better work with kids. As such, Alexa will now provide kid-friendly responses to questions like “Is Santa Clause real?” or the dreaded “Where do babies come from?”, to which the AI assistant will either give an appropriate family-fun response or politely suggest that a question would be better suited for an adult (because who really needs Alexa giving the sex talk to their child?).
There’s also a Drop In intercom feature that lets parents communicate with their kids throughout the house without the need to yell. Alexa can now understand kids better, taking into account their higher-pitched voices to help differentiate and adjust accordingly. This allows Alexa to better handle mispronunciations of various words (“Awexa”, for instance).
Amazon is also helping Alexa teach kids more manners. “Magic Word” helps to encourage the use of the word “please” when making a request, which should work in tandem with the recently enabled “follow-up” feature that can let users thank Alexa after making a command.
Extra Cost for Extra Features
The new Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition is available right now, and currently lists for $69.99, setting the new Dot at a $30 premium over the “adult” version. The added cost comes with the benefit of FreeTime Unlimited included for a year. But hey, you’ll see Amazon offer sales fairly regularly, or bundle in this device or other devices. Just keep an eye on the best Amazon Echo deals.
What if you already have an Amazon Echo Dot? Don’t worry you can essentially turn any existing Dot (or any Echo model for that matter) into a kid-friendly variant by subscribing to FreeTime for $4.99 a month, or $2.99 a month if you have Prime. Users can also opt for the FreeTime Unlimited Family plan, which will account for up to four children for either $9.99 a month or a prepaid yearly payment of $119, while Prime members will be priced at $6,99 and $83, respectively.
If you decide to make an existing Echo/Alexa product kid-friendly, the only thing that will make your experience any different from the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition is the included bumper. This is a similar strategy to what we’ve seen from the Amazon Fire tablet family. Keep in mind, FreeTime disables certain functions and skills when enabled on an Echo device, so it’s best to have multiple Echo devices at your disposal. While Alexa can distinguish between individual voices, that feature has not yet made its way to the FreeTime service.