YouTube finally launched its children's app in India on 9 November, called YouTube Kids, after launching it in 20 countries. The company had 14 November, celebrated as Children's Day in India, in mind so that the app gets enough traction 5 days after the launch.
Content websites such as YouTube carry a fair amount of children's content and host shows by many creators with a loyal following among children. But a big problem with YouTube and the Internet in general is that a child can wander off and view unsuitable content. To prevent this, a separate app geared towards children comes in handy.
The YouTube Kids interface is simple and child-friendly, sporting big icons, easy scrolling and very few buttons. The app has background music that can be turned off, and allows parents to select their child's age group to determine which videos are displayed on the home screen.
"We are very excited to launch finally in India," Malick Ducard, YouTube's Global Head of Family and Learning, told HuffPost India. "The team wanted to make sure that the product is ready for the specific geography. We have worked with many creators to ensure that top-notch content is on the app. Kids today always want to play around with a smartphone or a tablet. This is a great way to let them enjoy it without having a worry."
"Content curation and security were the main concern for us," Ducard added. "Even I don't want my kids to get hands on the videos which might not be appropriate for them. Our team works very hard to screen what is going to be displayed on the YouTube Kids app. Secondly, we are aware that in India there are bandwidth issues, we have worked on it to make the app lighter."
The set of security controls in YouTube Kids are fairly impressive. To access the parental settings, you first need to set a pass-code. Parents can turn the app's search feature off so that their child can only access videos from the subscribed channels. There is a mute option as well for the whole app, to cut out the sound entirely if needed.
"Often the kids complain when we take the smartphone or the tablet away from them," Ducard said. "Now, we can actually set the timer after which the app displays the message that the session is over. This way the app is the bad guy. You have to enter the pass-code once the time expires."
YouTube Kids is a good platform for content creators as well. The specialized app increases a video maker's chance to be discovered by a young audience.
"As a content creator and as a parent, I think the launch of this separate app is a great step," Vinod Chandar, CEO of ChuChu TV which has over 6 million subscribers, said. "Although, technically it is just a feed, it helps creators and parents a lot to drill down on child-friendly content."
The YouTube Kids team swears by the '4-star' rating in the App Store and the Play Store because of its features. It already has over a million downloads on Android across countries. In the coming weeks, the YouTube team is looking forward to getting a lot of feedback from parents and content creators alike, to make the app more secure and feature friendly.
You can download the app here.