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Amazon’s Fire 7 and HD 8 tablets can now double as hands-free Alexa speakers

Amazon’s Fire 7 and HD 8 tablets can now double as hands-free Alexa speakers

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Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

Amazon’s Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets can now pull double duty as hands-free Alexa speakers. This feature is already available on the Fire HD 10, and the company is now expanding it to other recent tablets. Both compatible models were released last year. Once the latest software update rolls out to the devices, you’ll be able to use Alexa’s full array of voice commands whenever the tablet’s display is turned on.

To use this functionality from across the room when the tablet is asleep, though, your Fire tablet must be plugged into a power source. And Amazon warns that even some low-power USB ports won’t be enough. That seems like an odd restriction considering the lengthy battery life that these devices offer. You definitely shouldn’t expect a tablet’s speakers to outperform the regular Echo, but a hands-free Alexa could be convenient when you’re traveling.

Aside from the usual audio tricks — answering questions, playing music requests, and so on — Alexa on Fire tablets will also display visual content with some of its responses. So, as with the Echo Show and Echo Spot, you can have it pull up a feed from one of your smart home security cameras. And in cases where there are multiple Alexa-enabled devices around, Alexa will respond from the closest one, thanks to its ESP (Echo Spatial Perception) capabilities.

Once you’ve received and installed the latest Kindle Fire software update for the 7 or HD 8, enabling the new feature is rather simple. Just swipe down from the top of the display to get to quick settings and toggle it on.