As expected, YouTube today launched YouTube Kids for Android and iOS, described as a “family-friendly destination” and “the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.” You can download the new app for free, available only in the U.S., directly from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
The app’s main selling point is that it only has content deemed appropriate for kids. In other words, the pitch to parents is very simple: This app will ensure that your kids can watch videos posted online without stumbling on clips you wouldn’t want them to see.
The Google-owned company explains the app is designed to make it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore. It is also a much more simplified and basic app (larger images, bold icons, and built-in voice search for those who have yet to learn how to type or even spell) compared to the main YouTube experience, though it still features videos, channels, and playlists.
There’s also a content focus for early literacy, including science and math tutorials, though YouTube stops short from calling it an educational tool. The parental controls include a timer for watch time (even if the content is filtered, you presumably don’t want your kid watching videos all day), as well as options to turn off background sounds and the search function (limiting viewing to just the pre-selected videos available on the home screen).
If the search is turned off, the main way to find videos is to browse the channels and playlists, which are organized into four categories: Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. As for the actual content itself, YouTube promises videos from DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, Talking Tom and Friends, National Geographic Kids, Reading Rainbow, and Thomas the Tank Engine.
It’s too early to gauge whether YouTube Kids will take off. YouTube says that “the possibilities are as endless as a child’s curiosity” but at the end of the day, it comes down to what parents think. They have to download the app, block or delete the main YouTube app, and then encourage their kids to use YouTube for Kids.
We’ve heard for a long time that Google is working on apps aimed at children. Indeed, the company not only says that “this is the first step toward reimagining YouTube for families” but that this is “our first building block in tech for tykes.”
In short, you can expect more Google apps and services aimed squarely at the youngest generation. It’s no secret in the tech industry that if you get them while they’re young, they may just use your products for life.