Once enabled, you can ask Alexa for the weather, sports scores, news and much, much more. Just like the Echo Show smart displays, the Fire tablets add a visual element to certain replies, with a week’s worth of weather highlights appearing on screen, for instance.
On the latest Fire tablet models, you can have hands-free access to Alexa (“hey Alexa”), but you need to enable the feature in the device settings.
What it doesn’t do, that the Show does, is let you make video calls or check in on elderly relatives (although since the calling service hasn’t even launched in the UK yet, that’s arguably a moot point).
In fact, presumably, Amazon won’t roll out most of the core Show functionality to Fire tablets, because if they did, why would you bother buying a Show?
From what we’ve seen of it, the integration with general tablet activities is very slick, letting you dismiss Alexa, but then call it back via a pull-down menu, when you realize you’ve forgotten what it said about the weather, or what the tune stuck in your head is.
Pleasingly, Alexa is also available on previous generation Fires (as the 7-inch one used to be called), and the HD 8 and HD 10 tablets via a free software update.
While nobody is going to accuse Fire tablets of being at the cutting edge of processing power or beautiful design, they are more than adequate for practically all standard tablet tasks, easy to grip and manoeuvre, and dirt cheap at under £50 and under £80 respectively for the 7-inch and 8-inch models.
Although the screen resolutions are not changed from the older models, the contrast has been boosted to make eBooks easier to read and video to ping a bit more.
They’re also robust and colourful, qualities that come into their own on the Kids Editions, both of which are also regularly updated.
Amazon launch Fire HD 10 Tablet and TV
With a device that comes at a cost of half as much as the least expensive iPad, Amazon announced a new Fire HD tablet or TV. The revamped model has new specs such as a better processor and fast charging.
The new model comes with Dolby Atmos stereo speakers, a maximum of 12 hours of battery life and a 1080p display. It also comes with a new USB-C port that enables users to have faster charging. The eCommerce retailer’s tablets had kept using an older technology called microUSB. According to the report, one can pre-order the tablet now, which rolls out on Oct. 30 and begins at $149.99.
With Amazon’s tablet strategy, the report claims that the eCommerce retailer sells the tablets at an inexpensive cost and brings in money when shoppers purchase products such as digital movies on its website. The Fire HD 10 tablet reportedly functions as a “portal” to the services of Amazon, with the inclusion of Prime Video, Amazon Music, its app store, Kindle and “more.”
Less costly models of the new tablet display ads on the lock screen. Typically, the Amazon’s tablets feel far cheaper than competing iPads (because they are), but they offer a good value for people who don’t need Apple services or software.
In separate Amazon Fire news, Amazon and Google announced in April that the two were gearing up to roll out an official YouTube app on Amazon Fire TV devices. Amazon and Google said in a release at the time that, additionally, Prime Video would be available across Android TV device partners and on YouTube Kids and YouTube TV apps.
Once set up, you’ll simply have to say “Alexa, play the news” for your Fire TV to automatically play a customized playlist of news clips based on the preferences you’ve set.
In any case, you won’t need to download it manually and should just wait for it to show up on your device.
Amazon will also make its app available on Fire tablets soon, providing the same experience it’s built for TVs.
Faster Processor and USB-C
There’s also “enhanced” Wi-Fi, and microSD storage has been expanded to a maximum of 512GB (up from 200GB on the older model). Lastly, Amazon has finally added USB-C to one of its tablets for the first time, which, in addition to being far more convenient to charge, also enables fast charging on the Fire HD 10. There are also some new colors — twilight blue, plum, and white — in addition to the standard black.
On the software side of things, Amazon isn’t changing much. It’ll still run the same customized version of Android as Amazon’s other tablets, although the company is using the launch to roll out a new picture-in-picture mode that will allow you to keep watching video content while in other apps. Right now, only a few apps are supported (like Amazon’s own Prime Video app and Netflix), but more should add support over time. The new feature will launch with the Fire HD 10, but it’ll make its way to the entire lineup in a future software update.
The Fire HD 10 Kids Edition, Amazon’s child-friendly bundle, now offers a new case (similar to the Fire HD 7 Kids Edition), which features a built-in adjustable stand for easily propping up the tablet. The rest of the Kids Edition perks are still the same: a two-year extended replacement program and a free year of Amazon’s hand-curetted Free Time service, which offers thousands of premium apps, books, and TV shows and movies for kids as well as advanced parental controls for monitoring and limiting time spent in front of a screen.