Now the company is adding Echo to the juvenile genre. An Echo Dot Kids Edition of the popular, diminutive smart speaker will begin shipping on May 9 for $80 — 30 bucks above a regular Echo Dot. Pre-orders begin today.
For the extra scratch, children and parents get a kid-friendly case; that two-year guarantee; and a complimentary one-year subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited plan. The latter is a paid subscription service, currently available through Kids Fire Edition tablets, that provides access to over 300 Audible Books; kid-friendly iHeartRadio stations; premium Alexa Kid Skills from Disney, Nickelodeon, National Geographic and others; character-based wake-up alarms; and games, apps, videos, books and other content via Fire tablets.
In addition, Echo Dots for the younger set will come with Amazon FreeTime on Alexa, a forthcoming free service for Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus owners that includes parental controls, activity reviews, age-appropriate Alexa interactions (like knock-knock jokes), and positive reinforcement when kids use the word “please” when issuing voice commands.
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The free FreeTime will begin rolling out to all Echo owners via an over-the-air software update starting May 9, as will access to the paid Unlimited Alexa version. Single subscriptions for the latter start at $3/month for Prime members and $5/month for non-members, while monthly family plans for up to four users are priced at $7 and $10, respectively.
In other Amazon news, the company has added automobiles to its list of delivery drop-off points, which includes homes, businesses, lockers and Amazon campus stores. The new option is an adjunct to its existing Amazon Key service for Prime members, which allows packages to be dropped off within customers’ homes in an effort to thwart theft.
In-car deliveries are now available for tens of millions of items at no extra cost to Prime members in 37 cities, as long as they own compatible, Cloud-connected 2015 or newer Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs, Volvos or GMC vehicles with an active OnStar or Volvo On Call account. The connected-car services provide keyless entry for Amazon drivers.