Google's Family Link app lets parents hand down their old Android gadgets to their kids without worrying about what they could end up downloading from the Play Store or finding online. They just have to create a Google account for their kids and download the app, which went public today. Until now, parents had to request an invite and hope that Google followed up.
Family Link allows parents to approve or block apps that their kids want to download from the Play Store, monitor their screen time and the apps they're accessing, set device time limits, and remotely lock their kid's device for bedtime or studying.
Google is directly targeting Amazon and its kid-friendly Fire tablets with Family Link. Amazon's tablets always let parents set screen time limits, and it recently began letting parents retrieve more granular data on the apps their kids are using and even the books and websites they're accessing. It also launched a new parent-oriented dashboard in April.
Google doesn't seem to readily give parents that kind of access through Family Link, and it says some messaging apps and music players won't be tracked completely. Still, parents likely have old Android phones and tablets they'd like to pass down to their kids, as opposed to having to buy a whole new kid-oriented tablet. Google is now giving them that option without the risk of their kids running rampant on the internet without any supervision.
The app is available for kids so long as they're using a Android device that runs Nougat and higher. Certain devices running Marshmallow work, too. Parents can run Family Link on an Android device running Kit Kat or higher or an iPhone running iOS 9 or higher.