Last week Amazon unveiled its newest speaker geared specifically toward children. The new Echo Dot Kids Edition is the second iteration of the company’s family-friendly line. Its design mimics the third generation Echo Dot, and offers better sound quality and new child-friendly features.
The New Echo Dot Kids Edition – What to Expect:
The most obvious change from its predecessor are the color options. The new Echo Dots Kids Edition is available in either frost blue or rainbow fabric colors. The previous model offered solid blue, red or green bumper options.
Another big change is the sound quality, which is 70% louder than the previous generation.
The new Echo Dots Kids Edition also comes with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service that offers kids-only features as well as advanced parental controls.
In a blog post, Amazon lists some of the features available through FreeTime Unlimited. “Kids can enjoy Alexa skills like Disney Dance Floor by Disney Publishing, Baby Shark Adventures by Pinkfong, Ghostbusters by Sony, and Adventure Island by Intellijoy,” the blog post reads. “Plus kid-friendly stories through Audible, and podcasts like Wow in the World by NPR, Story Pirates by Gimlet Media, and But Why by Vermont Public Radio.”
The blog post also announces new ways for young ones to keep up with the world around them. By asking “Alexa, what’s the news?” kids can receive daily updates and news from National Geographic and News-O-Matic.
And with the new Alexa Skill Blueprints, parents and kids can co-create skills, like interactive stories or building a family-specific chore chart, from existing templates.
What About Privacy Concerns?
Amazon recently came under fire for allegedly storing voice recordings, a concern it responded to by releasing a “delete everything I said today” command function.
Another concern came from child advocacy groups claiming the first generation Echo Dot Kids Edition violates privacy laws.
The company’s website notes measures including strict awake-word activation and the ability for parents to delete any recordings in the Alexa app. The company also makes clear that none of the skills available within FreeTime Unlimited collect any personal information, and that it follows industry best practices for securing verifiable parental consent.
The company’s blog post also states, “we worked with the Family Online Safety Institute and other leading groups to build the Alexa on FreeTime experience from the ground up, and we adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.”
It remains to be seen if any ongoing allegations and investigations will impact immediate sales or spark additional security measures from Amazon. The new device is set to release on June 26. Pre-ordering is available now.