In a briefing earlier this week, Amazon told TechCrunch that it was surprised by how Alexa has been embraced by families. But while the smart assistant isn’t exactly risqué (with a couple of notable exceptions), there are certainly things you don’t necessarily want your kid getting access to — shopping and explicit music among them.
With that in mind, the company is rolling out an update to the Alexa, designed specifically with concerned parents in mind. On May 9, the assistant is getting its very own version of FreeTime, the parental control program the company introduced for its Fire tablets. The offering is available in both free and premium tiers, the latter of which runs $3 a month for Prime members. If parents are already FreeTime Unlimited subscribers, however, they’ll get the new version for free.
The free version of FreeTime on Alexa (confusing, I know), gives parents device time limits, parental controls over skills and services and the ability to view their kids’ activity via a new parental dashboard in the app. This version of Alexa also maintains the new intercom functionality, but drops the ability to make phone calls outside of the home.
Alexa has also been trained to understand kid questions and speech patterns and has new answers targeted specifically at kids. You can, say, ask it to tell you a dinosaur joke, and it will be suitably groan-inducing.
The premium tier adds a bunch of kid-friendly content to the assistant. The list includes 300 Audible books, ad-free stations from iHeartRadio Family and premium skills and stories from Disney, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. That includes wake-up alarms featuring familiar Disney and Nickelodeon IP, like Coco.
A year of premium will also come bundled with the Echo Dot Kids Edition.