YouTube will release a new app designed for kids on Monday, the Google-owned video service has confirmed to The Verge. The app — called YouTube Kids — will reportedly offer original episodes of TV shows aimed at youngsters, in addition to videos from child-centric channels on YouTube, and will let parents set timers to stop their spawn from watching too long.
The app will only be available on Android at first
YouTube Kids will reportedly be distinct from YouTube's regular app, and at first, will only be available on Android smartphones and tablets. The app has a kid-friendly design with big, bulbous icons and minimal scrolling. Its home screen has large tiles featuring images from popular TV shows and four simple icons — shows, music, learning, and explore, which will let kids browse through top videos. Families can also search through the app's list of approved content, including videos created by National Geographic Kids, Thomas & Friends, LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow, and the puppet masters at the Jim Henson Company.
The app is set to be released by YouTube executive Malik Ducard at Kidscreen Summit, an event for the children's entertainment industry, on February 23rd. The company says the age-appropriate app is something that has been requested for a long time. "Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids," YouTube product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair told USA Today.
YouTube videos aimed at children have seen a 200 percent growth in year-on-year viewing time
Videos aimed at children have a ballooning audience online — Ben-Yair says family entertainment channels have seen 200 percent growth in viewing time year-on-year, compared to 50 percent on the rest of the site — but in order to build an app aimed at under-13s, YouTube will have to stick Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which has laws that stipulate parents have to be informed if websites and services collect data from kids.
It's not yet clear how YouTube will make money from its new app, but The Wall Street Journal says the possibility of YouTube Kids featuring ads was under discussion. The plan to release the dedicated app comes as the company is spinning off chunks of its network and repackaging them as paid services. YouTube Music Key, a subscription service that lets users stream high-quality and ad-free music, was officially announced last November and is currently in beta.