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Kids to get their own YouTube app on February 23

YouTube is set to roll out a kid-friendly version of its service this Monday.

Google, which owns the video-streaming giant, revealed last year it was planning to launch child-focused versions of its products. Its plan for YouTube comprises a “fun and safe” Android app offering a mix of original and existing content.

According to USA Today, which recently viewed a demo version of the app, YouTube Kids sports a clutter-free interface and includes a number of unique features, among them a timer function that lets parents control how long the app can be used for before a password is required to continue watching.

Related: 7 kid-friendly tablets for keeping tiny ones tame

Reportedly built by in-house engineers “with
parenting credentials,” the app’s home screen features eight large tiles, each one showing images from popular children’s shows.

Icons above each tile indicate the type of video to expect, so, for example, a TV set indicates an entertainment show, while a lightbulb represents something educational.

Voice search

With toddlers’ typing skills not quite fully formed, the app wisely offers a voice-based search option, though the feature will need to be pretty smart if it’s to accurately capture some of the baffling babble that emanates from the lips of littl’uns.

And if a kid types or says a search word that’d make their parents blush, or possibly faint in shock, the app has been programmed to respond with a “try something else” message.

Related: Taiwan bans kids from overusing tech

According to the Wall Street Journal, which also carried news of the app’s imminent release, YouTube is paying some creators to produce original content for its new service. However, it’s not currently known how YouTube Kids will generate revenue for the company.

The inclusion of ads is said to be “under discussion,” though the existence of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which imposes strict limitations on how data is collected for advertising purposes from those under 13 years of age, means the company will have to proceed with caution if it decides to go down that road.

The law has been used by the Federal Trade Commission to land 20 firms with fines over the last 15 years after it was discovered they’d mined information from children without their parents’ agreement.

YouTube Kids will be announced during a keynote at the Kidscreen Summit in Miami on Monday, the Wall Street Journal said in its report.

[Source: USA Today, Wall Street Journal]