Amazon adds music, podcasts and radio to Alexa Routines

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Now you can control Alexa with your voice when your tablet is connected to power or the screen is on and in use.

The downsides (outside of the power constraint) are that since the tablets do not have the far field microphone arrays that proper Echo devices have. If the Fire 7 or Fire HD 8 is plugged into a charger, or if the screen is turned on, Alexa will respond to a voice command instead.

Now, though, in a new firmware update, Amazon is changing things. 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. At $49.99 it's the same price as the Echo Dot, though the compact smart speaker is often discounted for temporary promotions. 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.

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To use this functionality from across the room when the tablet is asleep, though, your Fire tablet must be plugged into a power source.

Amazon has added the ability to play music and podcasts as part of Alexa Routines, as it looks to make its smart home schedules even smarter.

If you own the Amazon Fire HD 10tablet, you know how much easier accessing your virtual assistant is with hands-free Alexa.

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You can ask Alexa to perform tasks such as playing a song, turn off the lights, start or pause a movie and more. The new feature is being rolled out to the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 starting this week.

Currently, only the Amazon Fire HD 10 (7th generation) has the hands-free Alexa feature.

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