UPDATE: For the latest Kodi build news, check out our January 2017 Build Roundup.
If you’re looking for Kodi build reviews, AddonHQ is where it’s at. Back in October, we published in-depth reviews of 5 popular Kodi builds: Nemesis, Apollo, Wookie, Ultra TT and Horus. In November, we followed up on those reviews and added CellarDoor to the mix. This time around, we revisited all of our old favorites again to see what’s new with them. Additionally, because Christmas is coming up we also covered a few popular Kodi builds for families.
Surprisingly, almost all the family builds I tried out this month allowed me to easily get to totally inappropriate content. Read on to find out which so-called family builds are actually suitable for kids and which ones allow easy access to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other disturbing movies and shows.
Before you proceed
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- 1 Lots of popular “kids” builds allow access to adult content
- 2 Beast Kids: Awful menu design, easy access to R-rated films
- 3 SpinzTV for Kids looks nice… but 4 clicks brings you to a violent drama about a neo-nazi gang
- 4 Shank’s Build: A family friendly build with content restriction tools for parents
- 5 Here’s what the top Kodi build makers have been up to lately
Lots of popular “kids” builds allow access to adult content
Just because a build is covered in cartoon or comic book wallpaper doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain loads of links to inappropriate content. Let’s take a quick look at how easy it is to find nightmare fuel on two highly promoted Kodi builds for kids.
If you searched Twitter or YouTube for “best Kodi build” a few months back, you’ve probably already seen promotions for the adult version of The Beast. Now that The Beast’s creator has released a new kids version of his build, another round of announcements have been popping up on social media.
Peddling spam and popup ads
In order to try out the Beast, you have to visit a spammy signup for that’s crammed with misleading ads. Without credentials obtained from thebeast2.com’s register page, there’s no way to install the thing.
Wait, it gets worse
Even though the Beast Kids annoying installation procedure is pretty horrible, it’s actually not even the worst thing about this build.
The Beast Kids interface is so poorly planned out and awkward that it’s actually kind of funny in an ironic sort of way. It seems as though the designer of this build might have been trying to make the menu as simple as possible for children. But because he stripped out so much, the end result is an menu system that’s far more confusing and difficult to use than the one it was designed to replace.
Beast Kids has no menu bar. As a result, there is no way to even know that there are other menu pages available unless you’ve used Kodi before and know that they should be there. Plus, you can’t even see the name of the page you’re on very well because of the annoying Captain America shield in the background.
What’s the point of making a special Kodi build for kids when Kodi’s default interface is actually less confusing and easier to use? I don’t get it.
I also don’t understand the widgets on the page depicted above. Exodus is actually a pretty good addon that has loads of recent TV shows and movies. So why did the creator of Beast Kids choose to feature these 6 corny old films from the 60s and 70s? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to feature recent titles that kids would actually want to watch?
To the left of the 6 live action movies is a widget that goes directly to Phoenix– a video addon for adults that’s packed full of all kinds of horror films and R-rated movies. To get to a list of films that’s literally called “The Scariest Movies Ever Made” from the Phoenix main menu, all you have to do is click the One242415 folder.
Beast Kids default settings allow anyone access to every part of every addon included in the build. What that means essentially is that every kid who uses Beast Kids is always 3 clicks away from watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
I normally include installation instructions with every new build I review, even if I don’t personally like the build myself. However, Beast Kids is such a waste that I’m not even going to bother linking to its popup covered registration page.
SpinzTV for Kids looks nice… but 4 clicks brings you to a violent drama about a neo-nazi gang
I was initially quite impressed by the kids version of SpinzTV. It’s got lots of fun backgrounds and snazzy looking widgets. Also, the menu pages present a hand-picked selection of popular kids movies and series.
However, American History X is just a few clicks away. To get to it, all you have to do is navigate to settings → video addons → goodfellas → mob movies.
American History X is an excellent, thought-provoking film– but it’s also ultra violent and disturbing on many levels. It shouldn’t be so easy to get to on this build, or on any build that’s supposed to be for kids.
SpinzTV for Kids has got potential, but it’s a real “fixer upper”
If you manually sort through all of Spins TV’s addons and remove all the ones that link to adult content or lock them down individually with an addon like KeySentry, you could manually turn this build into a kid friendly one. But then again, all that extra work sort of defeats the purpose of downloading a kids specific build in the first place.
SpinzTV for Kids installation instructions
- Go to http://spinztvrepo.com/Repository/ and download repository.SpinzTV-[version].zip to your desktop.
- Open repository.SpinzTV-[version].zip from within Kodi by navigating to system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Install the SpinzTV wizard by navigating to system → settings → addons → install from repository → spinzTV → program addons → spinzTV → install
- Install SpinzTV for kids by navigating to programs → spinsTV → spinzTV builds → spinzTV for kids
Shank’s Build: A family friendly build with content restriction tools for parents
If you’re a parent in search of better content controls, check out Shank’s Build. It’s the only build I could find that comes with addons that give parents the ability to restrict certain types of content.
In order to understand why Shank’s Build’s content control features have so much potential, let’s take a look at the bare bones version of Kodi.
Kodi’s default parental controls are broken
This screenshot of “vanilla” Kodi’s default lock preferences screen (accessible via system → profiles → [user name] → lock preferences) illustrates how its parental control system is essentially an all-or-nothing proposition.
You can either use a password to restrict an entire content category (like all video addons, for example) or you can opt to leave it completely unprotected.
I checked out Shank’s Build today and after fiddling around with its settings a bit, I was able to configure it to prompt for a password when I attempted to access certain addons.
With a little more work, a build like Shank’s Build could allow Kodi to finally gain mainstream popularity. I think that one of the reasons why Kodi hasn’t caught on yet could be the fact that it’s a little too wild and edgy. Most parents want to stop paying money for cable, but not at the expense of exposing their kids to mature content.
Shank’s Build installation instructions
- Go to http://areswizard.co.uk/ and download script.areswizard[version].zip to your desktop.
- Open script.areswizard[version].zip from within Kodi by navigating to system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Install Shank’s Build by navigating to programs → ares wizard → browse builds → shanks → install
How to setup content access controls on Shank’s Build
To setup your content control PIN on Shank’s Build, navigate to system → addons → my addons → all → pinsentry. Then, hover over PinSentry and press C to bring up the context menu. Choose configure addon, then set pin value.
After you’ve got a PIN, you can decide what to secure and what to allow access to via the PinSentry program. You can get to PinSentry from the main menu of Shank’s Build via programs → pinsentry.
PinSentry’s main menu gives you 5 different content types to control: movie sets, music videos, plugins, file source and classifications.
When you check off an addon via the plugins menu, nobody will be able to use it unless they know your code.
Shank’s Build pros and cons
Shank’s Build looks good, has decent parental controls and sports a nice mix of popular addons. Pro Sport, for example, is the addon I always recommend to people who want to watch live sports feeds. The excellent new movie and TV show addon called BOB also comes with this build, and so does Exodus— my personal favorite video addon. Additionally, Shank’s Build has a menu page called Ladies’ Lounge that contains a selection of content for moms and teenage girls.
Shank’s Build a good start, but it isn’t perfect. It could really use a few more addons that are specifically designed for kids. If I was setting up a Shank’s Build Kodi box for a very little kid to use without supervision, I’d feel forced to lock down all of the Shank’s Build addons except Tykes by Merlin. All the other ones can be used to find mature content. Shank should’ve included more addons that contain kids content and kids content only, like Bobby’s Cartoons for example.
Here’s what the top Kodi build makers have been up to lately
Adults have far more options than kids when it comes to Kodi builds. In my opinion, Wookie, Ares Project and Top Tutorials are the top build designers right now. Over the past couple months, they’ve been working hard to deliver updates, bug fixes and feature upgrades. All 3 teams’ flagship builds are pretty amazing and worth checking out.
In addition to the teams mentioned above, I’ve also been keeping my eye on KodiUKTV and Echo Coding.
The build developers at Wookie have really stepped their game up in recent weeks. In November, Wookie updated all their official builds with a fresh new look and a slew of bug fixes. Then, at the beginning of this month the Wookie developer known as Mega came out with a very interesting patch for his build.
Most Kodi TV guide addons are really crappy, so if Mega really managed to code an awesome one his build is probably going to become popular in the very near future.
How to get Wookie builds and addons
- Go to http://wookiespmc.com/wiz/ and download the file named Click me – succumb to The Wookie.zip
- Open Click me – succumb to The Wookie.zip from inside of Kodi via system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Now you can browse all of Wookie’s Kodi software by navigating to programs → wookie wizard
The most interesting Ares Project build right now is still CellarDoor TV. After using it for the past few weeks I’ve decided that it’s even better than my previous favorite Kodi build, Apollo. Check out our November Build Roundup for a detailed review of CellarDoor, or watch Triple M’s video below to see what it’s all about.
In addition to CellarDoor, I’m also pretty enthusiastic about the recent Shank’s Build family update. If Kodi is ever going to enjoy mainstream popularity, something has to be done about the proliferation of mature content on Kodi builds and addons. Shank’s Build takes one step in that direction with the introduction of built-in parental controls.
How to get Ares Project builds and addons
- Go to http://areswizard.co.uk and download the Ares Wizard file script.areswizardx.x.xx.zip to your desktop.
- Open script.areswizardx.x.xx.zip from inside of Kodi via system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Now you can browse all of Ares Project’s Kodi software by navigating to programs → ares wizard.
When I first checked out Top Tutorial’s flagship UltraTT build back in October, I gave it props for being speedy and generally well thought out. A minor November update weeded out some broken addons and gave the build a minor facelift.
This time around, the TT build team updated UltraTT with a cool new info screen for streaming movies. Check it out in the screenshot below.
An especially nice thing about this new view is that it allows you to view plot information about movies and TV shows as you browse.
How to get Top Tutorials builds and addons
- Go to http://toptutorials.co.uk/kodi/builds/ and download the Top Tutorials Wizard file plugin.video.ttwizard.zip to your desktop.
- Open plugin.video.ttwizard.zip from inside of Kodi via system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Now you can browse all of Top Tutorial’s Kodi software by navigating to programs → top tutorials wizard.
KodiUKTV’s Nemesis build is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use builds out there. However, it hasn’t been updated since September. As a result, Nemesis is currently pretty buggy and full of out-of-date addons.
When I asked the KodiUKTV Facebook group about Nemesis, one of its members told me that an update is in the works and should be released soon.
How to get KodiUKTV builds and addons
- Go to http://kodiuk.tv/repo/ and download the file named repository.kodiuktv-X.X.X.zip to your desktop.
- Open repository.kodiuktv-X.X.X.zip from inside of Kodi via system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Navigate to system → settings → addons → install from repository → kodiuktv repo → program addons → kodiuktv wizard → install.
- Now you can browse all of KodiUKTV’s Kodi software by navigating to programs → kodiuktv wizard
After Team TBD disbanded a few months back, Echo Coding took over the defunct group’s repo as well as all its addons and builds. Echo was in a transitionary state when I first came across the group’s featured lightweight build Horus back in October. Now, it seems that Echo is starting to expand upon the large user base that it inherited.
A look at the builds section of the Echo Wizard reveals that the team now has a brand new build called Vibe. Apparently, Vibe racked up over 3000 downloads this week. I’m curious to see what the buzz is all about, so I’ll definitely be reviewing Vibe in the very near future.
I’m also curious about Horus XXL– a popular build that Echo inherited from Team TBD. When I tried out Horus XXL several months ago, it was pretty much a mess because it hadn’t been updated since the transfer of ownership. But a few days ago, Echo started promoting Horus XXL on Twitter:
Horus XXL was pretty decent back when Team TBD was actively maintaining it several months back. It’ll be interesting to see what team Echo has done with it.
How to get Echo builds and addons
- Go to http://echocoder.com/repo/ and download the file named repository.echo-X.X.X.zip to your desktop.
- Open repository.echo-X.X.X.zip from inside of Kodi via system → settings → addons → install from zip file.
- Navigate to system → settings → addons → install from repository → echo repository → program addons → echo wizard → install.
- Now you can browse all of Echo’s Kodi software by navigating to programs → echo wizard