Amazon plans to release a slate of new Alexa features for parents and children, plus a new $79.99 version of its Echo Dot designed for kids, attempting to expand the appeal of its voice assistant for families and broaden its reach in the home.
The new options, announced this morning, include a “magic word” feature that offers positive reinforcement for saying “please.” For example, if someone says, “Alexa, please tell me the capital of Nebraska,” she will respond by saying, “The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln. By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.” Alexa will still respond, without the positive reinforcement, if someone doesn’t say please.
Amazon announced three options rolling out on May 9:
- Amazon FreeTime on Alexa, a free upgrade for existing Echo users. This includes parental controls such as the ability to set time limits, block specific services and skills, exclude explicit songs, prevent purchasing and review kids’ activity on Alexa. In addition to the “magic word” feature, Alexa will also offer educational Q&As for kids, and respond with “age-appropriate” suggestions when kids say, “Alexa, I’m bored.”
- FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa: This $2.99/month option for Prime members expands Amazon’s existing content subscription service for kids to Alexa, with new audio content and premium skills for kids. FreeTime Unlimited is currently available to Amazon Prime members on Amazon Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers and Android devices, and the company says it will be available on Alexa to existing FreeTime Unlimited subscribers at no additional cost.
- A new “Kids Edition” of Amazon’s Echo Dot will sell for $79.99, a $30 premium on the normal list price, with spill-resistant cases — in blue, green and red —and a year of FreeTime Unlimited included.
If the “magic word” feature sounds familiar, a smart speaker announced by Mattel last year included the option for parents to require kids to say please to get a response. That device, called Aristotle, was cancelled prior to its release.