Amazon has started rolling out the hands-free Alexa feature to its two smaller Fire tablets after introducing it on the Fire HD 10. The new functionality will allow users to access Alexa on their Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets without having to touch the device. Prior to this update, users had to touch and hold the home button to summon Alexa, though the new capability also comes with some limitations, such as the fact that Alexa still can’t be called when the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets have their screens off and aren’t connected to a power source. This isn’t the case with the Fire HD 10 tablet which can be used to call Alexa irrespective of it running on battery power with the screen turned off, giving the larger tablet an edge over the other two.
Launched last year, the seventh-generation Fire HD 10 comes pre-loaded with hands-free Alexa capabilities, thus offering an interaction experience comparable to that of the Echo series of smart speakers even though it still lacks far-field microphones and hence cannot pick up commands from across a room. Regardless, thanks to the newly introduced feature, the tablet version of Alexa is now capable of pausing and resuming videos, playing music, calling, messaging, and performing all other functionalities it's known for. The update enabling the functionality is presently in the process of rolling out to all eligible models of the Fire-branded tablets, with the distribution itself being gradual in nature and thus being expected to take at least several days until it's completed.
Amazon had announced the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets last May with a price tag of $49.99 and $79.99, respectively. These prices are attached to the base variants of the devices and go higher if the tablets come sans lock screen ads. The entertainment-focused slates come pre-loaded with a host of Amazon services including Prime Video and Prime Music, as well as a variety of third-party apps such as Facebook and Netflix.