Google is redesigning its parental control Family Link app with an easier interface and new features, like the ability to get alerted when their kids leave known locations (like school) and when they get home. Family Link lets parents manage Android devices for their kids by setting screen time limits and more, all from a control app on the parent's phone.
The app is receiving a significant facelift from the version that was initially released in 2017. It now gives parents a simplified interface with three tabs: Highlights, Controls, and Location. The app is updated on Android and iOS, and Google is also releasing a new web-based version of Family Link that lets parents keep tabs on a computer, and kids can review their settings on the web as well.
In Highlights, parents can get an at-a-glance overview of apps kids are using and installing, how long they use them, and other useful information like if they’re attempting to go to a site that is deemed restricted. Google now uses partner companies Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, and Family Online Safety Institute to help provide resources for parents that need help navigating conversations with how their children are using the internet.
The Controls tab is where parents can set limits for screen time and permissions for apps, and now there’s a feature that allows changing settings only for that day, without changing anything about the general limitations and settings. The Location tab makes it easier for parents to see where their kids are, and now it can push alerts when they leave or arrive from places like the library or home. And finally, there’s the notification bell that displays requests from kids to download a certain app or get approval for a purchase.
Now, Family Link can also supervise the main YouTube app on Google TV kid profiles — great for kids who have graduated from Cocomelon.
With the new updates to Family Link, Google’s totally free feature set is in closer alignment with the popular paid version of the family tracker service Life360 — the one that previously sold user location information to data brokers until it backed off of that business model. Family Link also has closer matches with Amazon’s comprehensive parental controls set on Fire HD Kids products and Apple’s latest ScreenTime features in the recently released iOS 16.
Update October 20th, 9:42AM ET: Added clarification that Google Family Link features are closer in alignment with Life360’s paid version of the service, Life360 also has a free option with limited features.