If you’re wondering where in the world is Carmen Sandiego (or Angry Birds, LEGO, Transformers, Daniel Tiger, and the Sesame Street crew for that matter) then it turns out you can find them within the newest kids offerings from Amazon. "Alexa, what’s AmazonKids and AmazonKids+?" Okay, I'm not Alexa, but I can still help break this down.
The new AmazonKids and AmazonKids+ offerings are essentially a rebrand of Amazon FreeTime and Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, respectively, which you may already be familiar with if your child has a Kindle Kids Edition or the Fire Kids Edition Tablet. FreeTime gave caregivers some peace of mind by allowing for robust parental controls (including limiting screen time, filtering content, and blocking in-app purchases). Amazon FreeTime Unlimited was a link and ad-free paid subscription for thousands of shows, movies, books, games, and more, geared for kids ages 3-12, also utilizing parental controls, which is especially helpful for moments, like car rides, where you don't have the option to look at what your child is watching.
AmazonKids+ is still full of child-friendly options (including audiobooks, Spanish language options, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more) but they offer some cool new updates including an integration with the Echo, a new home screen designed to look and feel more "grown-up," and even more video titles for kids ages 6 - 12, including "gaming playthrough videos and PG and live-action titles," according to a press release. Kids will also now be able to rock out to music stations from iHeartRadio Family (so they can get their dance on, and you know the music is age-appropriate).
Using app icons, the AmazonKids+ new home screen experience sorts content into “Educational,” “Apps & Games,” “Music,” “Videos,” and “Books,” (per TechCrunch) making it easy for kids to find what they're looking for, plus there's a row of recommendations for children who want to try something new. You can update these profile settings (which are best for kids 8 and up) using the new “Adjust Age Filters and Themes” section in the Amazon Parent Dashboard, and if you have a younger kid, you can skip this step to keep it simple for them.
For those with Echo devices in their house, kids can use their Fire tablet to "broadcast a message in their voice to everyone in the home," per the press release. This feature needs to be specifically enabled and parental consent is required, which is good because some parents aren't comfortable with the device knowing their child's voice, and also because I can think of several situations where you may not want to give your child free range to blare their wisdom throughout your home.
Amazon Kids is free, whereas Amazon Kids+ subscriptions start at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 per month for non-Prime members. This pricing is for one child, and family subscription models start at $6.99 per month for a family (a good option if you have more than one kid). Your Amazon Kids+ subscription can be used across multiple devices including Fire tablets, Fire TV, Kindle, Echo, iOS, Chrome OS, and Android devices. You may still see the name FreeTime on your device as they transition fully to AmazonKids within the next few months but rest assured that Alexa's on it.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the "Fire Kids Edition Tablet" as the "Kindle Fire." Romper regrets the error.