The parental control software for Android devices, Family Link, is currently leaving the beta testing period and is now available generally to everyone in the United States without the need for a request.
This software lets parents manage applications and set device bedtimes and screen time limits. It could be used from either an Android or iOS device. However, it is specifically designed to manage the Android device of a child.
Family Link was first presented in March as a request-only program. Similar to iOS’ Family Sharing “Ask” feature, the software allows parents approve or block application download. Additionally, parents could get the idea of what applications are taking the attention of their child by viewing monthly or weekly activity reports.
Family Link also allows parents control device usage. This includes setting a maximum number of hours/day the kid is permitted to be on their phone. These restrictions could depend by the day of the week too. So, for instance, parents could be stricter on school days than on weekends.
But, the software doesn’t include a universal content filtering feature like several 3rd-party parental control applications do. However, it could control the filtering feature in the own apps of Google such as Chrome and Google Search App.
Originally, the software required both child and parent to be on Android. However, with the release of an iOS version of the software in April, everything changed. Also, the service works through a web browser.
The parental control software by Google is a differentiator for Android. Comparatively, the iOS version instead provides a “Restrictions” section that is concentrated more on what applications a child could use. You could either toggle off or on the default apps of Apple or by app ratings. You could also use other options for controlling what a kid could do on the phone, and set privacy options.
But, Apple doesn’t provide a way for parents to view activity reports on app usage, remotely lock the device, or set time limits. As of now, those kinds of tools have been left to 3rd-party developers.
Family Link could control any Android device operating on Android 7.0 (Nougat) and higher, and several Marshmallow devices. On the other hand, parents are only required to have Android 4.4 (KitKat) or higher.
While the Family Link is now available for free, the company says it still is considering user feedback.