One of the world’s most powerful online educational tools just got a new, kid-friendly package.
On Monday, Google released YouTube Kids for free on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. In a blog post on YouTube, the app is billed as "the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind" and one that makes browsing the video site’s massive library safe and easy for kids.
"This is the first step toward reimagining YouTube for families, but with your help, the app will continue to get better over time,” writes Shimrit Ben-Yair, group product manager for YouTube Kids, on the company’s blog. “We’re excited to start this chapter with you—so from our family to yours, enjoy!"
Though YouTube boasts millions of videos, only age-appropriate content is readily available for patrons of YouTube Kids. Children can browse channels and playlists in four categories: shows, music, learning and explore.
Popular children’s programming such as Reading Rainbow, DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, and Talking Tom and Friends are included by default.
Parents concerned about age-inappropriate content can rest assured: A series of built-in controls give them a say in what their children can access and when they can view content. Among the controls, a timer lets parents set up a specific video-gazing period, and an online search can be enabled for wider access to videos.
Rumors of Google developing a kid-friendly version of YouTube persisted throughout 2014, and the launch of YouTube Kids this month could signal the company’s family-focused vision for 2015.
Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering who is overseeing the shift, told USA Today in December, “The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children.”
Earlier this month, the search-engine giant acquired Launchpad Toys, the company behind Toontastic, an app that allows children to draw, animate and narrate their own digital stories. The video accompanying the launch of YouTube Kids incorporates a few of these elements. Perhaps it’s a hint of things to come?