With Americans reportedly staring at their phones for an average of four hours every day, mobile addiction has clearly become a problem for many of us, and we're talking about fully grown adults who should be able to manage their time better.
When it comes to kids, they may not be able to set up manageable usage rules on their own, which is where Google's Family Link app comes into play. And today, it's getting a sizeable expansion to its target audience.
Launched a year ago this month, the free Family Link app (Android, iOS) gives parents tools to limit how much their kids use their phones and tablets each day, manage which apps they can use, and enforce bedtime hours. Until now, this app was intended for children up to age 13, but by popular request, it's been expanded to teens up to age 18. However, this second group doesn't have to follow the same set of rules.
Most notably, if you're a Family Link user between the age of 13 and 18, you will be able to disable the app's restrictions at any time, without tricky hacks or workarounds -- but your parents will be notified when you do. It's an interesting way to tackle those rebellious teenage years, and it may impact Family Link's popularity among stricter parents, since child monitoring apps have become a cottage industry with a variety of options.
On the other hand, with mobile monitoring apps continuing to suffer personal data leaks due to hacking or design oversights, you may feel safer with Google's eye in the sky, rather than a company you haven't dealt with before. Plus, Family Link is completely free to use, and it works just as well on iOS as it does on Android, despite Apple's device security restrictions.
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Google also announced that Family Link is coming to the Chromebook, which is the company's line of laptops and tablets that run Chrome OS. It's a cousin of Android, and it can run some Android (and even Linux) apps. It's arguably a safer environment than Windows, thanks to being effectively immune to viruses and most other types of malware like MacOS.
However, you can pick up a Chromebook at the fraction of the cost of a Macbook, hypothetically giving you the best of both worlds: value and security. Be aware, though, that most Chromebooks have limited internal storage capacity, because you're meant to store most of your data in the cloud, on Google Drive.
- Google has expanded the age range of its Family Link child monitoring app to add children ages 13-18.
- This second age group will be allowed to disable the app, but their parents will be notified.
- Google Chrome beta adds more security, face detection, and Apple's TouchID
- Google releases free Podcasts app for Android; iOS version yet to come
- Google starts verifying and updating Android apps that aren't from its Play Store
- Google Maps finally comes to Apple CarPlay with iOS 12 (CNET)
- Android in your car: Google is working with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi on infotainment systems (ZDNet)
- How Google is connecting veterans to civilian jobs (TechRepublic)