Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others.
TechCrunch reports that, on Android devices, parents will have to “separately add in any apps or games they might own” to FreeTime Unlimited. A free one-year subscription to the FreeTime Unlimited service is “one of the key features of the Fire Kids Edition,” and is otherwise “a major selling point” for other Amazon hardware.
Currently, over 10 million parents have signed on to FreeTime, says Amazon, which, adds TechCrunch, makes it “clear that Amazon has identified a hole in the market that it can exploit to its advantage.”
As a parental control service, FreeTime doesn’t simply lock down the device but rather allows parents to select the content added to their child’s device and set screen time limits (including device “bedtimes”). Parents can also set “daily educational goals” that must be accomplished before the child can access entertainment.
The service also “gives kids the feeling they have some level of control,” since they can browse and choose content on the site without running into “blocks, warning messages and restrictions.” A dashboard for parents offers “activity reports and other insights on how their child has been using their device” as well as Discussion Cards that offer parents prompts to engage their child in discussion about the activities he or she is engaged in; both the dashboard and Discussion Cards are supported on Android devices.
TechCrunch deems it “not likely that Amazon would port this same service to iOS, given that Apple’s platform doesn’t allow third-party apps to lock down access to content on the device the way that FreeTime does.” But, it opines, the launch may be Amazon’s effort to “get out ahead” of Apple’s June introduction of “improvements to iOS’s parental controls.”