Amazon is launching colorful version of its Echo Dot called Echo Dot Kids Edition, and is also introducing a special version of its digital assistant that also has children in its sights. These new offerings combine to deliver the company's popular smart speaker experiences in a manner that is more appropriate for a younger audience, with curated content and of course built-in parental controls.
Starting with the Echo Dot Kids Edition, the puck-shaped smart speaker appears to be the same as the regular version, except the version for children is offered in bright colors, including Blue, Green, and Punch Red. Like the regular Echo Dot, the colorful models are hands-free, voice-controlled speakers that tap into Alexa. What makes the speaker different is not the puck itself, but the experiences behind it.
Echo Dot Kids Edition speakers come with a year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited service. This is a new content subscription service for parents and kids, which aims to bring a wide selection of Alexa-specific content, such as kid-friendly premium skills, a library of 300 kids audiobooks, games, and more. It also includes the aforementioned parental controls and allows parents to schedule when the Echo Dot can be used.
While the service is free for a year with a Echo Dot Kids Edition purchase, Prime members who already own an Echo Dot can subscribe for $2.99 per month. It also works with Fire tablets, Kindle devices, and and most Android products. For non Prime members, it runs $4.99 per month. Amazon also offers a family version for homes with up to four children. It runs $6.99 per month for Prime members or $9.99 for those without a Prime account, or $83 per year for Prime members and $119 per year for non Prime subscribers.
"Tens of millions of households already use Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce an entirely new way for kids to have fun and learn with Alexa," said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices and Services. "With Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime on Alexa, parents can have peace of mind knowing their kids are getting age-appropriate content, while they listen to music, ask questions, enjoy Audible books, use Alexa skills, and more. We can’t wait for parents and kids to try this out."
As with anything that is aimed at kids, durability is a concern. To address that, Amazon says its Echo Dot Kids Edition speakers come with a 2-year "worry-free guarantee," meaning Amazon will replace it for free if a child manages to break the speaker.
You can pre-order an Echo Dot Kids Edition now for $80. That's a $30 up-charge compared to the regular Dot, though it includes several kid-friendly features that don't come with the regular Dot, as shown above.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition will start shipping on May 9.