Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

New Alexa update for Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets

New Alexa update for Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets

If you have a PIN or password set on the device, you must unlock it to enable all Alexa hands-free features. Now that same functionality will roll out to Amazon's other tablets through a free, over-the-air software update. Voice triggering can now be enjoyed on your Fire HD 8 and Fire 7.

To enable or disable Alexa hands-free, swipe down from the top of your tablet's Home screen, tap the Settings icon (you know, the one that looks like a cog), tap Alexa, then tap the toggle for Hands-Free Mode. The two tablets, which are priced from $49.99, have had Alexa support since launch, but it's not worked in quite the same way as you'd experience the voice assistant through an Echo or Echo Dot. However, if the tablet screen is off, and the Android slate is not plugged in to power, Alexa won't be listening. You will not be able to access hands-free Alexa if the device is asleep and plugged into a low-power source (Amazon uses the example of a computer's USB port).

"In order to do this, you need to change the 'Tablet ESP Behavior" in the Alexa app's settings.

Fire tablets don't have the far-field microphone arrays found in Amazon's Echo speakers, but so long as you're reasonably close to your tablet, Alexa shouldn't have a problem responding to voice commands.

The feature essentially turns the tablet into a poor man's Echo Show, the $230 Echo device with a screen.

Amazon says the firmware update bringing Alexa hands-free mode to the tablets is being pushed out this week, though it might be a couple of days before you see it.

The feature was already available on the Fire HD 10.

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