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Google Family Link gets location tracking and better Screen Time limitation features

Google gives its Family Link app (opens in a new tab) a makeover to be more user-friendly while adding more parental control features.

Family Link was first launched five years ago as a way for parents to manage how children use their Android devices – by setting a screen time limit, for example. Since then, the app hasn’t really caught the eye of Google, which makes this new wave of updates all the more welcome. The company says the developers have taken parental feedback into account for the redesign (opens in a new tab), resulting in three new tabs – Controls, Location, and Highlights – to better organize app features.

A new look

The Controls tab contains features inherited from Family Link, such as the ability to set screen time limits for devices or apps, restrict certain types of content, and “manage [app] permissions. There will be a new addition, Today Only, which replaces the basic Screen Time tool. For example, if a child reaches the limit on the first tool, you can extend the time with the second tool, but just for that day. You will have to set it again every day after that.

Location, as the name suggests, will notify a parent of their child’s location by focusing on a device and displaying it on the tab map. It will also inform users about the battery life of the device and notify them when a child has reached or left their destination, similar to Google Maps. Speaking of information, the Highlights tab gives parents insight into a child’s behavior (opens in a new tab) on their device. It will tell you what apps they’ve been using, how long they’ve been using them, and if they’ve tried to access restricted content. Google says there are plans to expand the Highlights tab to include “more useful information”, but gave no details.

We reached out to Google and asked for more information about the future of Family Link. A company spokesperson told us they had nothing more to share at this time.

Updates to the Family Link app will be available on iOS and Android devices as it rolls out in waves, so be sure to keep an eye out for when it arrives on your phone. We must also mention that Google launched a desktop version of Family Link (opens in a new tab) which shares all the same features. Simply log in to create your account.

Changes to Google TV

Along with Family Link, Google TV will have its share of kid-friendly changes (opens in a new tab) including AI-generated recommendations and “parent-managed watchlists”. The latter allows parents to add or remove content that their children can watch on the service from the parents’ own profile. Google TV will also offer a “supervised YouTube experience” to introduce the platform to children. Of course, the YouTube experience will have its own set of parental controls.

Google TV updates are rolling out to the app today and will reach other compatible devices such as Chromecast with Google TV in the coming weeks. We’re sure parents will appreciate the new Family Link app, but it can’t oversee everything. If you’re interested in stepping up your game, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best free parental control apps of the year.