Amazon is making a version of Alexa aimed at kids.
It will be part of a new piece of hardware, the Echo Dot Kids Edition, which will ship on May 9 for $79.99 (pre-orders are available now) or as an addition to existing Echo hardware. BuzzFeed got a deep dive on the new tech.
The Kids Edition Dot appears to be identical to the existing $50 Echo Dot, except that it comes in a colorful carrying case and comes with a 2-year warranty. Additionally, it features one year of FreeTime Unlimited with age-appropriate books music and other media. The kid-friendly version of Alexa will also filter explicit songs from Amazon music.
Existing Prime Members can get the FreeTime Unlimited subscription for $3 per month starting on May 9, which also includes alarm with cartoon character voices (like Spongebob Squarepants). Any user can activate the free version which doesn't have the free content, but will filter songs, provide a parent dashboard to see what kids are doing, set time limits and offer kid-friendly answers to questions.
Those kid-friendly answers may be the most important part. It leans into positivity and making sure that you are talking to adults you trust. BuzzFeed asked questions about body image, bullying and potential abuse, and it directed them towards relatives, teachers or adult friends.
Of course, this also means that Amazon can start tracking kids' preferences at a very young age, especially if parents don't delete search queries. It may make for great recommendations, but not every parent will be OK with that.