In March, Google introduced its own parental control software for parents of kids with Android devices called Family Link – but there was a bit of a catch. In order for the system to work, it required that both parent and child use Android. That has now changed, as the parents’ app for configuring and monitoring the child’s device usage has just arrived on iOS devices.
That means mom or dad can be an iPhone user, but still manage their child’s screen time, daily usage limits, set “bedtimes” and more, for their kids who use Android.
This launch expands the reach of Family Link dramatically, given that iOS has grown to capture 42 percent of the smartphone market here in the U.S., where Family Link is currently available.
The parental control platform is still in testing. When Google unveiled the software last month, it explained that parents would first have to request an invite to join the program. The idea is that Google wants to first work out the kinks and get feedback from early adopters before making Family Link more broadly available.
As for the software itself, Family Link lets parents set some basic limits on how their child can use their Android phone. It offers tools that allow parents to either block or approve app downloads – similar to the iCloud Family Sharing “Ask” feature on Apple devices – or block apps that are already installed.
In addition, parents can track how much time kids are spending in which apps through weekly and monthly activity reports, remotely lock the child’s device on a set schedule (device “bedtimes”), and configure daily screen time limits.
The iOS version, released on Thursday, doesn’t appear to have any new features compared with its Android counterpart – it simply ports the parental control app to Apple’s platform.
There are a few other caveats to be aware of if you want to try Family Link, however. It still requires the child has an Android device running Nougat (7.0) or higher, or has one of a handful of supported Marshmallow devices. (A list of those is available on the Family Link FAQ page.)
Of course, you should also be aware that this is an early preview of the software, and there could still be bugs to contend with here.
Family Link for iOS works on devices running iOS 9 or higher and is a free download on the App Store.