Google launched YouTube Kids today, available for free with both Android (Google Play) and iOS (App Store) systems. The kid-friendly app is currently exclusive to the United States, and hopefully it won’t be long before Canada gets to check it out as well.
With the amount of content available through YouTube and with the rise of the smartphone and tablet, many younger children have nearly constant and often unintentional access to not-so-kid-friendly material. It is only possible to monitor so much, so a tool to help filter what is accessible is, at this point, overdue. And finally we have the YouTube Kids app (though we’re still waiting in Canada).
The Google app has 3 main focuses: design, family content, and parental controls.
The design was made with a far younger audience in mind with larger images and icons, and brighter colours. To keep things simple, the app features four main icons: Shows (play button), Music (radio), Learning (light bulb) and Explore (binoculars). Or alternatively you can simply swipe through options on the main screen.
The accessible content has been meticulously filtered, much of which was done manually. This means that you don’t have to worry about your son or daughter finding a not-so-kid-friendly video through one of the suggested videos, but it also means that the new content will take a bit longer to be up on YouTube Kids than it would on regular YouTube.
According to the Google blog, you have access to many series from the YouTube channels and new content is added frequently. Though, no specifics have been mentioned as to exactly how much content is available. "While the company declined to share how many videos were available in the app at launch, Ben-Yair would say that there are "thousands” of channels on YouTube Kids.” – techcrunch.com
The main parental controls according to the Google blog are timer, sound settings, search settings, and product feedback.
The timer is a built-in feature that lets you limit your child’s screen time and includes an alert for when the time is up.
The sound settings allow you to turn off the background music and sound effects. You also have the option of turning off the search setting, which leaves only the home screen accessible.
There is also a space allocated for feedback as Google refers to the app as the "first building block in tech for tykes” hinting that there may be more kid-friendly projects in the works.