Amazon redesigns Echo Dot as a sphere, adds animal designs and reading feature for Kids Edition

Amazon today introduced a redesign of its best-selling smart speaker, the Echo Dot. The company is bringing a new spherical design to the Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock and a new Echo Dot Kids Edition — the latter which now features colorful animal character designs. Instead of a flatter, hockey puck-shaped device that can better be hidden on shelves, the updated Dot designs mean consumers will have to think more about where they’re placed in the room.

The Dot and Dot with Clock will come in Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue colors. The Kids Edition will now be available with either a tiger or panda design to also make them feel more like room décor.

The devices will also include a 1.6-inch, front-firing speaker, producing crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound, Amazon claims.

The actual functionality provided by the new Dot hasn’t changed as much. It still offers access to the Alexa smart assistant, music, skills, news, reminders, lists, alarms and more.

Kids Edition devices also come with kid-friendly responses, and allow kids to listen thousands of Audible books from brands like Disney, Nickelodeon, and National Geographic, among others.

Another new Alexa feature, Reading Sidekick, has been designed to complement kids’ reading routines, and helps them build fluency.

When this launches, Alexa will take turns reading from a supported book with the child then listen for quality of reading. It will offer encouragement when the child is reading well and support when the child struggles, Amazon says. Reading Sidekick at launch will work with hundreds of children’s books and will be available in preview for Amazon Kids+ families in the months ahead.

In another move to cater to parents, Amazon says the Amazon Kids parental controls will be expanded to work all over the house, not just on their Echo Dot Kids Edition. Plus, parents will be able to create an Alexa voice profile for their kids.

Once enabled, Alexa will shift to the Kids Alexa experience whenever it recognizes the child’s voice—on any device in the household—and then provide kid-friendly responses, games, skills, music, and more. Those families who subscribe to Amazon Kids+ will have access to all the kids’ favorite premium skills and Audible books, as part of that catalog.

A preview of Alexa voice profiles for kids will begin rolling out for Amazon Kids and Amazon Kids+ families in the coming months.

Echo Dot Kids Edition will be available for pre-order today for only $59.99 and will ship later this year.

The Echo Dot will be available for pre-order today for $49.99 and will ship later this year. The Echo Dot with clock option will cost $59.99.