Amazon targets youngsters with Echo Dot Kids Edition and custom Alexa
If video of Alexa returning some slightly age-inappropriate results to toddlers' queries has prevented you from welcoming the virtual assistant into your home, then a custom version designed from the ground up for little ones, along with the new Echo Dot Kids Edition, might just address your reservations.
The Kids Edition is basically the same as the standard Echo Dot, but differentiates itself with a colored case available in red, blue or green. This adds an extra 0.2 in (6 mm) to its height and diameter, and 1 oz (28 g) to its weight, but it's the bundled software that Amazon hopes will help justify the US$30 price premium it's asking for the device.
The Kids Edition comes with the new Amazon FreeTime on Alexa, which comes in free or subscription flavors and is compatible with Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus models. The free version brings parental controls, including bedtime limits, disabling of voice purchasing, and explicit song blocking, along with family-friendly features such as prompting kids to use "please" when asking Alexa questions; the ability to answer questions about science, math, spelling, word definitions, etc.; and the ability for parents to review a child's FreeTime activity on Alexa.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition also comes with a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which is available for existing Dot owners for $2.99 a month. This adds premium kid-friendly content, including Audible Books; ad-free music stations and playlists; new Alexa skills from Disney, Nickelodeon and National Geographic; and alarms featuring characters from various characters.
The other feature of the Kids Edition likely to appeal to parents is a two-year free replacement guarantee in case the tikes get too rough with their new friend. In comparison, the regular Echo Dot only comes with a 90-day warranty.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition is available for preorder for $79.99, with deliveries to begin from May 9. FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited will also roll out in over-the-air updates on May 9.