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Amazon’s Fire OS adds Alexa video support and a reading app for children

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Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Amazon’s Fire tablets are getting an update. The company on Monday launched several new features on Fire tablets that are aimed at making Alexa smarter and helping kids find things to read.

Perhaps the most notable new feature is Amazon Rapids, which is an attempt at getting children to read through a chat-based mobile app. The app was launched last year as a subscription service, and stories are essentially told to kids in the style of chat sessions.

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“Amazon Rapids adds a fun, new dimension to reading, with illustrated short stories written in a unique chat style that brings stories to life, one message at a time,” said Amazon in a statement.

With this new storytelling format, kids will be able to control the pace of the story. Simply tap on the next chat bubble to move to the next sequence. The app will also help kids learn how to read — words can be sounded out by the app, and those words will be added to a dictionary. If kids are really young, there’s also a mode in which the story is read to the child rather than the child having to read it themselves.

Rapids is still subscription based — the app comes with hundreds of stories for kids, with new ones added every month, and it costs $2.99 per month.

Amazon Rapids isn’t the only new addition to Fire OS — the operating system is also getting Alexa video support. Alexa was first rolled out to Fire tablets earlier in the year, and is basically aimed at being Amazon’s Siri. On top of being able to search games and audiobooks, the assistant will also now be able to search for movies and TV shows on Amazon Video.