This story was originally published and last updated .
Microsoft announced last month that its new Microsoft 365 subscription service (formerly Office 365) would offer some family-oriented features, like a new 'Family Safety' app that combines screen time data across multiple platforms and provides tracking information. Following two months of a public beta program, Microsoft has today shared that the app is going stable.
Microsoft introduced Office 365 in 2011 as a new subscription model for the company's popular suite of office applications, but it has gradually expanded in scope since then. Today it was announced that Office 365 is being renamed to Microsoft 365, and there are new features for both consumers and large organizations alike.
Many of you are visiting family for the holidays, which means you're sharing meals, telling stories, and exchanging gifts. In fact, quite a few of you may be giving phones or tablets to family members this year. If you're a regular around here, you're probably also known as the resident gadget expert, an honor that is both a compliment and a curse — you know what I'm talking about. While you might be trying to avoid impromptu tech support work, we would like to encourage taking a few minutes to do something for the greater good: Clean the trash apps from your family members' devices.
Google announced the deprecation of Chrome Supervised Users at the start of 2018. The tool let a Chrome user to allow, block, or manage access to sites for supervised users designated under their account. Now we know that v70 of the browser, slated for an October 2018 release, will mark the official end for the feature.
Many mobile carriers — like Verizon and Project Fi — offer ways of monitoring kids' mobile activity. Today, the "Un-Carrier" announced its take on the concept, which it's calling FamilyMode. T-Mobile's approach is novel, though, in that it includes an optional piece of hardware that extends the service's functionality to your home Wi-Fi network.
Verizon has long had a parental control service called FamilyBase, but today that is going away. In its place, Verizon is rolling out Smart Family. It works on both iOS and Android to allow parents to track device location, filter content, and more. The service comes with a monthly fee, but it does look quite comprehensive.
Google Family Link debuted last year as a way for parents to create Google accounts for kids 13 and younger and keep tabs on their usage of Android devices. According to a new Google For Families Help support page, though, the service is now available on Chromebooks as well. That's good news, since Chrome's Supervised Users feature that previously allowed parents to limit their children's access to certain features of Chrome OS was killed off in January.
For the first thirty years of my life, I was a lone wolf both offline and online. Then a funny Tinder conversation (of all places, gosh do I know!) with a stranger turned into a dinner, and we were pretty much inseparable since. Suddenly, most of the "me" decisions became "we," and as much as I like to think that choosing between Google Drive and Dropbox isn't a life or death situation, I do rely a lot on the services I use daily. They have to enable me to do things efficiently and smoothly, not stand in the way. My online choices were never a matter of flipping a coin but a thoughtful process that became doubly so when I knew I had to collaborate and share part of my data with someone else who might have different tastes and requirements than mine.
It baffles me that something as important as parental controls isn't built into Android and that Google's solution for the problem, Family Link, was only officially released last year and is still limited to countries you can count on one hand: US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and now Canada is joining the fold. There must be a legal or technical limitation why this isn't enabled worldwide, but I can't for the life of me guess what it is.
But I digress. If you're a parent in Canada with children under the age of 13, you can now manage their Android device, account, and usage through Family Link.