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Amazon will let you turn your Fire tablet into a portable Echo

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Key Points
  • Amazon is launching new accessories for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets, turning them into an Echo with a screen.
  • Amazon is also rolling out a "Show mode" software update on Monday.
The Fire HD in "Show mode."
Todd Haselton

Amazon just introduced new software and accessories that will turn your Fire tablet into a portable Echo.

The company on Thursday unveiled a new case and stand for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablet so those devices will act almost just like the Amazon Echo Show, a larger gadget that has a touch display.

You can call up recipes in the kitchen, see song lyrics for music that you're playing, place video calls to friends, start movies and more, all without touching the tablet and with a visual interface that was previously available only on the Echo Show and Echo Spot.

If you're unfamiliar, this is what the Amazon Echo Show looks like:

Todd Haselton | CNBC

When the tablet isn't being used — and if Show mode is active or if it's placed in Amazon's new stand — the tablet will show the time, headlines and have a wallpaper background.

The new function will be made available for free through a software update that will roll out on Monday, called "Show mode." Once installed, it can be activated by pulling down on the notification shade on either tablet. It will be much more useful to people who also buy the special stand and case, which props up the tablet and allows it to charge.

The Fire HD 10 on Amazon's new stand.
Todd Haselton

I asked Amazon whether these upgrades might make consumers less likely to buy the Echo Show or Echo Spot. Kevin Keith, Amazon's general manager of devices, said Amazon sees this as a complementary experience and expects the Show function on tablets to encourage users to carry them into different rooms of their home.

I already own several Echo and Fire TV devices throughout my house, so it's not a function I really see myself using unless I'm somewhere else, like a hotel room. However, for people who have never purchased an Echo, it may be a good way for Amazon to get the technology into their hands.

The new stands and covers go on sale in July. The package includes the stand and cover and will cost $34.99 for the Fire HD 8 and $49.99 for the Fire HD 10.

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