Amazon launches Echo Dot Kids Edition smart speaker
Amazon has launched a Kids Edition of its Echo Dot smart speaker for $79.99 (Rs. 5,400) in the US. The device with Amazon's voice-enabled digital assistant Alexa will work exactly like a standard Echo Dot but with several kids-centric features. It'll also allow parents to monitor time limits, set bedtimes, and review activity. The Echo Dot Kids Edition will start selling from May 9.
Echo Dot Kids Edition, which comes with a "kid-friendly" case, is tailored for voice commands like "Alexa, please play dance music", "Alexa, open SpongeBob challenge", and "Alexa, how long is a day on Mars?". The device can play "age-appropriate" music, tell stories, and offer content from providers like Nickelodeon and Marvel. The device is optimized for recognizing kids' voices and common mispronunciations (like "Awexa").
The device comes bundled with a one-year free FreeTime Unlimited subscription. Under it, users will get access to several kid-focused skills (Alexa voice commands), ad-free radio stations like Radio Disney and Kids Hits, and over 300 Audible audiobooks. FreeTime Unlimited also includes "family-focused features" like "Education Q&A" that lets kids ask Alexa science, math, spelling, and definition questions.
FreeTime is a set of parental controls offered on Amazon devices that lets parents restrict and monitor kids' interaction with Alexa. FreeTime Unlimited is the premium version of the service that offers a slew of kid-friendly content to Prime members for a monthly $2.99 fee.
With the free FreeTime Unlimited subscription, parents can block several Alexa features like shopping and access to third-party music service Spotify. They can filter explicit content from Amazon Music, check Alexa interaction history, and limit the time their kids can speak to Alexa. Notably, the device costs $31 more than the standard Echo Dot smart speaker and includes a two-year warranty.
According to earlier reports, Amazon smart speakers are listening in on your conversations even when they are in "sleep mode." This threat magnifies with an Echo Dot built especially for kids. However, Amazon maintains that it is not harvesting user data through Alexa and that the digital assistant's ability to recognize voices only adds to a personalized user experience.