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Amazon's new $3 subscription offers unlimited kid-friendly content

Amazon's new $3 subscription offers unlimited kid-friendly content

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At Amazon's Kindle Fire HD announcement in September, the company made a big deal out of the new FreeTime feature — it lets you control what your kids can do on your tablet, and how long they're allowed to do it. Today, Amazon's announced that there's a lot more for your kid to do, thanks to the new Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service. FreeTime Unlimited is essentially a subscription service for kid's content — you tell Amazon your child's age and gender, and it automatically opens up a library of books, movies, and apps appropriate for them. Amazon's made deals with Disney, Nickeloden, PBS, Marvel, and many other publishers, so there's plenty of content for every kid; we checked immediately for Curious George and Thomas the Tank Engine, and luckily both are present.

For now, there's no way to sort and filter by more than age or gender — if you don't want your kid to read princess books or watch Barney, there's currently no way to blacklist those, though Kindle VP Peter Larsen says that's coming. Already present is a clever recommendations engine, which re-filters your library to surface things your kid might want to watch and read based on what you've already checked out, and sorts content into things like "Dinosaurs" and "Sesame Street" to make new things easier to find. It's designed to be a lower-hassle way to give your kids something to do – instead of you having to white-listing every book or movie, you can give them a whole library — and when paired with the time limits you can set, the company's done a nice job of setting up a self-sufficient system.

The new feature is available on both Kindle Fire HD models, plus this year's Kindle Fire – the original tablet won't support FreeTime Unlimited. For Amazon Prime members, the service costs $2.99 per month per kid, or $6.99 for however many you've got running around. For non-Prime members, it goes up to $4.99 and $9.99. This is the first Prime perk we've seen that comes with an added cost, and Larsen intimated it may not be the last – it's certainly an interesting new strategy for the company. Amazon's seems to know that a tablet is a device for the whole family, and has done a better job than anyone of making its devices work for everyone.