YouTube Kids has an update rolling out and parents are probably curious what this one holds. As it turns out, things look pretty much identical in the app, so there probably aren't any notable changes going live with this one. However, a teardown did turn up a couple of things parents might want to keep an eye out for in the future. There's a new app coming soon that will enable remote access to manage parental controls. Additionally, a new page may be coming for gaming-themed videos.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
New management app: Family Link
One of the challenges any company faces while designing apps for kids is to ensure parents have proper and convenient control over what their children can do or see. The YouTube Kids app is a good example of an app with one glaring issue: Changes to settings have to be made on the device itself. There are times when getting to a kid's device might not be an option, like when they're with a sitter or playing keep-away.
It looks like YouTube is working on a way to simplify this issue a bit with an app that will be called Family Link. A couple of new strings have been added to YouTube Kids that describe the new management app as a tool that can be used on a parent's device to manage a child's search and content settings, and to block specific videos and channels.
<string name="unicorn_onboarding_all_set_body_1">Manage your child's search and content settings in the Family Link app on your device</string>
<string name="unicorn_onboarding_all_set_body_2">Block videos and channels right in the YouTube Kids app on your child's device</string>
<string name="video_flagged_body_unicorn">We'll review it shortly. This video is blocked in your YouTube Kids app. Your parent can clear your blocked video list using the Family Link app on their phone or tablet.</string>
<string name="video_flagged_title_unicorn">Thanks for reporting this video</string>
Technically, such an app was briefly mentioned once before, but not by name. In fact, it was only described as "the accompanying app" and sounded a little bit like it was pre-installed. This string was also updated to the app's name.
<string name="child_user_search_off_body">Your parent can turn search back on in the accompanying app on their phone or tablet.</string>
<string name="child_user_search_off_body">Your parent can turn search on in the Family Link app on their phone or tablet.</string>
There's currently no sign of (a Google-made) Family Link app in the Play Store, and it's not yet mentioned in Google's or YouTube's support articles, either. The key feature is obviously the ability to remotely manage the settings and content access on a child's device, but beyond that, it's not really clear if the app will do anything else. This could be just for working with the YouTube Kids app, or it might turn out to be the go-to app for all of Google's parental controls.
A page for gaming videos
This one isn't really that big of a deal, but there's a new animation waiting to join the navigation row spanning the top of the screen. It is clearly directed at gaming videos, most likely for actual video games if the controller is any indication.
Similar icons have been used in the app over time, including one dedicated to Halloween and another more generally targeted at parties.
Besides the icon, there aren't any other clues about what type of videos will be included. While gaming is certainly not an unusual topic for kids, the videos we typically see on YouTube are usually suited to an older crowd. Even so, YouTube Kids is pretty carefully curated, so the content should still be suitable for the ages it's presented to. And despite there being an obvious link to YouTube Gaming, I'd bet against ever seeing live game streaming in YouTube Kids.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.