Amazon Freetime Unlimited is coming to all Alexa devices May 9th and this means kids will have full access to 300 audiobooks from Audible and radio stations that have no advertising. Freetime will also give hands free content from Disney, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, and more. The service is free to people who use Kindle Freetime Unlimited or if you are new to this whole Alexa thing, you can subscribe for $2.99 per month for Prime members. If you don’t feel like paying, the free version gives a bunch of parental control features.
If you want to get your kiddo an Alexa unit just for themselves, Amazon just announced the all-new Echo Dot Kids Edition— just $79.99—which includes one year of FreeTime Unlimited family plan, a kid-friendly case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee—if anything happens, return it and they will replace it for free, no questions asked. This is the same type of warranty that Amazon offers with their Fire Kids edition.
Josh Sherman, Amazon’s head of FreeTime, says that the company has developed a number of optimizations for Alexa to improve the FreeTime experience for kids. It optimized the assistant’s voice detection for kids’ voices, which are often higher pitched than adults, and common mispronunciations (such as “Awexa”). When FreeTime is enabled, Alexa provides more context for questions asked, instead of giving only a direct answer. It also provides an intercom feature, which allows Echo devices to call from room to room within a house, but not out to the outside world. This is useful if you want to turn Alexa into a glorified baby monitor.
I think Freetime for Alexa makes sense, especially since so many people that have one, also have a family. Having great parental controls will block your kids voice from buying things from Amazon or listening to music with explicit lyrics.
These new offerings bring Alexa-specific features and content to Amazon’s popular FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited services. Over the last five years, over 10 million kids and their parents have enjoyed Amazon FreeTime, and Fire Kids Edition tablets are the #1 best-selling kids tablet in the US.
Parents can choose any combination of the following options for their kids:
1) Amazon FreeTime on Alexa brings parental controls and family-focused features to Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus—all at no cost. Simply add FreeTime to an existing or new Echo device to get started.
2) Amazon FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa, Amazon’s content subscription service for parents and kids, brings a wide selection of Alexa-specific content such as kid-friendly premium skills, Audible books, and more—all at no additional cost for existing FreeTime Unlimited members, or starting at $2.99 per month for Prime members.
3) Echo Dot Kids Edition is the easiest way to get started. It combines an Echo Dot, FreeTime features and parental controls, 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited, a kid-friendly case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee—$79.99 and available for pre-order today.
“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.”
Amazon FreeTime on Alexa—Parental Controls and Family-Focused Features – All for Free
Designed just for parents and kids, FreeTime on Alexa brings all-new Alexa features and parental controls to Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus, including:
• Time Limits – Set bedtime time limits to protect against kids talking with Alexa late into the night, or simply pause Echo devices for dinner or homework time.
• Parental Controls – Use the Parent Dashboard and Alexa app to choose which services and skills kids can use, turn off voice purchasing, and more.
• Block Explicit Songs – Both in the Alexa experience and FreeTime on Alexa experience, parents with Amazon Music now have the ability to filter playback of songs with explicit lyrics, and we’ll continue to add compatible music services to this feature over time.
• Activity Review – Parent Dashboard allows parents to see their kid’s FreeTime on Alexa activity, plus review their voice recordings in the Alexa app.
• Magic Word – The new Magic Word feature offers positive reinforcement when kids use the word “please” while asking questions of Alexa.
• Educational Q&A — Kids can ask Alexa questions about science, math, spelling, definitions, or any other topic that piques their curiosity. Since Alexa is built in the cloud and always getting smarter, she’ll continue to learn new information every day.
• Alexa Speaks “Kid” – Alexa has age-appropriate suggestions at the ready, all kids have to say is, “Alexa, I’m bored.” Kids can also ask for knock-knock jokes, ask Alexa for a song, and more. The more they use Alexa, the smarter she will get.
• Household Communications – Gone are the days of shouting up the stairs for the kids to come down to dinner. FreeTime on Alexa allows for household announcements, calling, messaging, and Drop In within the home.
Amazon FreeTime on Alexa will roll out to existing Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus owners via a free, over-the-air software update starting May 9. Learn more about FreeTime: www.amazon.com/freetime.
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa
FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa takes the best of Amazon’s existing all-in-one FreeTime Unlimited subscription and adds Alexa-specific content such as Audible books, kid-friendly premium skills, and more. With FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa, parents get all of the FreeTime parental controls and features mentioned above, plus unlimited access to kid-friendly content including:
• Over 300 Audible Books – Kids will enjoy hours of entertaining and educational Audible books performed by some of their favorite characters and authors such as Peter Pan, Rip Van Winkle and more.
• Ad-Free, Kid-Friendly Stations & Playlists from iHeartRadio Family – From Kids Hits to Radio Disney, kids will love the thousands of songs from playlists and custom stations available.
• Premium Alexa Kid Skills from Top Brands – With all-new Alexa skills like Disney’s Disney Stories, Nickelodeon’s No Way That’s True, and National Geographic’s This or That, kids can explore Alexa skills developed by the best in kids’ entertainment and education.
• Wake Up to Favorite Characters – Kids can start the day with alarms featuring their favorite characters from Disney, Nickelodeon, and more.
• One Subscription, Unlimited Possibilities – With a FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa subscription kids can also access thousands of games, apps, videos, books, and more on Fire tablets, including Fire Kids Edition tablets, Android tablets, and Android phones.
FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa will roll out to existing Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus owners via a free, over-the-air software update starting May 9. Customers who already subscribe to FreeTime Unlimited for their kids can get the subscription content, features, and parental controls at no additional cost. Those who are new to FreeTime Unlimited can sign up for as low as $2.99 per month. Learn more and subscribe: www.amazon.com/freetimeunlimited.
Echo Dot Kids Edition—Combines All of Amazon’s Best Kids Experiences—Just $79.99
Echo Dot Kids Edition is the simplest way to get started with the Alexa kids experience. It comes with all the FreeTime parental controls features, one year of FreeTime Unlimited family plan, a kid-friendly case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee.
Echo Dot Kids Edition will begin shipping on May 9. Pre-order Echo Dot Kids Edition starting today at www.amazon.com/echo-dot-kids-edition.
Here’s what partners and industry experts are saying:
Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, said, “We are excited to see Amazon bring FreeTime to Alexa. The curated content and user experience has all been designed with kids, parents, fun and safety in mind. In our latest research report, FOSI found that the majority of parents were comfortable with their child using a smart speaker, and by making this service available, Amazon is creating another safe, kid-friendly experience for families.”
“As more homes are getting smart, we have a unique opportunity to deliver Disney stories on new platforms, such as Amazon’s Alexa service,” said John Love, VP, Digital Experiences, Disney. “With more than 30 Disney Stories at launch and more Alexa skills coming soon, we are in a great position to bring Disney content to where our audiences are.”
“National Geographic is at the center of a community of bold people with insatiable curiosity,” said Rosa Zeegers, Executive Vice President, Consumer Products and Experiences at National Geographic Partners. “Our scientists, photographers, explorers, and filmmakers chase the big questions and push the boundaries of our knowledge about our world. We have found a great partner in Amazon and we are excited to be part of the launch of the new FreeTime on Alexa experience.”
“Voice experiences are an important new way to connect with kids and families, and our continued collaboration with Amazon underscores Nickelodeon’s commitment to transforming entertainment,” said Matthew Evans, Executive Vice President, New Business and Digital, Nickelodeon Group. “By combining voice, sound effects and interactivity, these Alexa skills offer an exciting new arena for our audience to engage with our brand and our most popular characters.”
“Having been one of the music launch partners for the original Amazon Echo and considering the success of the iHeartRadio Family app for Amazon’s Free Time Unlimited program, launching on Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa is a natural extension to an already strong partnership,” said Jessica Jerrick, EVP of Business Development and Partnerships for iHeartMedia. “We’re excited to team up with Amazon to bring an engaging mix of iHeartRadio’s family-friendly radio stations, music playlists and other entertaining audio content perfectly suited for little ears to Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.