WASHINGTON: Google has announced Kids Space, a new mode for Android tablets that includes kid-friendly features and content, and parental controls. It’s making its debut on Lenovo’s new Tab M10 HD Gen 2, also unveiled today. Google says it’s coming to more devices in the future.
There are a number of tablets out there that offer content specifically for children, such as Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition line. There are also various third-party parental control apps that families can download. Kids Space stands out in that it will be built into a number of Android tablets — not just tablets designed for kids.
This is a key distinction in the current tablet market, according to Lenovo. Per the company’s research, tablets often function as shared devices among household members, and many kids start preferring grown-up-looking products at a fairly young age. A representative told me that Lenovo “didn’t want a kids tablet that looked like a toy.” Instead, it’s marketing the Tab M10 HD Gen 2 as a product for families to share. Users create separate profiles with their own settings — so children can use Kids Space while parents can browse as normal.
Within Kids Space, children can access a library including apps, games, videos, and books. Google says it worked with children and parents to curate the content “through the lens of child development.” The offerings, the company says, are “enriching, high-quality, and trustworthy.” They’re meant for kids under 9.
The interface is colorful and cute, and looks easy to navigate. Kids can sort content by topic — animals, princesses, cooking, vehicles, homework help, etc. and can swap between tabs labeled “Make,” “Play,” “Read,” and “Watch” in addition to the home screen. They can also create an avatar for themselves, customizing various characteristics including outfits and backpacks. Parents can add additional apps through the Google Play store, which could be helpful as school gets under way.
Kids Space is a follow-up to Google’s Family Link, a parental control app for all Android devices, which allows parents to create and monitor Google accounts for their kids. You can set regulations on screen time, select what apps they can use, remotely lock their devices, and keep tabs on their activity. Parents will be able to use Family Link controls to manage their children’s use of Kids Space. “Parents can extend the experience and customize it even more for themselves,” Google told me. Google doesn’t use any data from children’s accounts to target ads (and Lenovo says it doesn’t collect any either).
“Join us in our journey as we continue to create productive and healthy experiences for kids that adapt to the evolving world and needs of your family,” says Google in its press release.