Earlier this month, Google whitelisted a few extensions for kids' Chromebooks managed via Family Link, like Zoom, Hangouts, and some educational tools — only installable with parental permission, of course. This makes life easier for those who need to rely on video conferences for learning during these stay-at-home times, but it's still a tiny selection. To improve the situation, Google is now testing support for all extensions on managed Chromebooks in Chrome OS 83+ (we tested using Dev 83 and 84).
With millions of children currently studying from home, and most likely using cheap computers like Chromebooks, glaring omissions in Chrome OS have come under the spotlight. For example, those who were using Family Link to manage their kids' Google accounts and Chromebooks noticed that they can't install any extensions on them. Maybe that was designed as a security measure, but it hindered the use of video conferencing tools like Zoom and Hangouts. Now that's changing.
Chrome OS has been on a collision course with Android for quite some time. Adding onto previous additions, like Android’s media controls and Google Play Store support, Chrome OS 77 is bringing even more Android love to the big screen. This time, we're getting widespread Google Assistant support, Family Link bonus time, even better on-device media management, and accessibility upgrades.
During its I/O press conference, Google announced several improvements to Digital Wellbeing including a tight integration with Family Link, enabling parents to set screen and app usage limitations for their children's devices. The feature was said to be coming in Android Q, but we hadn't yet seen it in any beta release. With today's update to Digital Wellbeing, the integration appears to be going live.
Google has been gradually updating all of its apps with its latest Material Design components and stylings over the last year or two, and that process is now reaching some of the company's lesser-known apps. Family link for Parents is the latest to get a makeover, albeit very a very subtle one.
Google is well aware that its products are used by children, with the average age of kids receiving their first smartphone now down to eight. That's why the company has announced a whole slew of options for parents to control their minors' phone usage by putting Family Link features right inside Android Q's settings, for all devices receiving the latest OS.
Being a parent in this digital age is a tough affair, so plenty of apps aim to help families manage their children's smartphone usage and online activities. Google's Family Link, which is available worldwide, is one such example, but as always, there's a delicate balance between features and restrictions. Duo is one of the latter.
Google Play Games is officially going dark. Well, the latest update is making its dark theme accessible to everyone. But that's not the only thing this update brings, there are now app shortcuts and a new sorting feature for achievements coming soon. A teardown also shows the team is preparing to add Minesweeper to the built-in games repertoire. Oh, and we're heard from the dev team, and we've got a hunch they're having a good time.
With technology ingrained in every facet of our lives, or so it seems, parenting has come with a new set of challenges on top of the ones that were already there. Managing your children's screen time is one of them, and Google is here to help you with that — Family Link is rolling out to Chromebooks on the stable channel (i.e. most of them).
Now, parents can manage a curated list of websites they've greenlit for their kids to use and approve apps downloaded via the Google Play store. Family Link also allows parents to hide specific apps already installed and manage in-app purchases for those already on the Chromebook.
Family Link also now offers specialized activity reports that track how much time is spent on individual apps. Some, like music players and messaging apps that tend to run in the background, won't be tracked as closely with the weekly or monthly report options.