YouTube’s app just for kids on the way (updated)

There are lot of great professionally-made videos for kids on YouTube buried in an avalanche of decidedly inappropriate content. Soon, parents won’t have to filter the millions of videos themselves: On Monday, Google is launching a new free Android app aimed directly at kids, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thusrday.

The app will be called YouTube for Kids, according to Google, and you’ll be able to download it from the Google Play app store for Android phones and tablets on Monday. (Originally, Google was not expected to also release an iOS version at launch, but it did.)

YouTube Kids Screenshot

The free app has several family friendly features, including a simple and colorful design, parental controls and ways to set limits on screen time. But the most important part of the app will be its curated roster of kids shows, including videos from popular series such as Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Companies contributing content include Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks TV, Mother Goose Club, The Jim Henson Company, National Geographic, and Reading Rainbow. The mix of content appears to center be mostly shorter web videos as opposed to full episodes — LaVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow, for instance, will be contributing an “exclusive original series” called uTech. Shows like Sesame Street offer full episodes on YouTube, but those usually require a subscription.

It’s unclear whether Google will be serving advertisements in the YouTube for Kids app, although the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is paying its content partners to to produce original shows. Google will have to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, so it will have to notify parents before collecting identifying information.

A YouTube for Kids product has been a long time coming. Netflix and Amazon Prime Streaming both offer kids sections — Amazon sells a kid-oriented subscription — and there are lots of third-party apps that have tried to fill the child-oriented gap left by YouTube. But the children’s video market is too important to be left to startups, so Google is doing it itself.

Update 2/23: Google launched YouTube for Kids, and in a bit of a surprise, there is an iOS version on the App Store in addition to an Android version on the Google Play app store. This post has been updated to reflect availability for Apple devices.