Google’s in-depth detailing of I/O 2019 revelations is well underway and among the most useful new announcements for parents may be that the search giant’s Family Link parental controls will soon be an integral part of Android itself. The tool will remain available as a standalone app for older versions of the OS, as of Android Q, users will be able to find it in the Settings app.
Family Link controls will find an appropriate placement alongside digital wellbeing features under a new “Digital Wellbeing and parental controls” option in stock Android but that's not the only change, either.
Google will be ramping up on functionality for Family Link, starting with the added ability to set time-limits individual applications on a supervised smartphone or gadget, with the latest updates. Unlocking a device after its designated lock-down time will be refined. Instead of unlocking the supervised device and jumping through hoops to lock things up again, parents will now be able to award set amounts of "bonus time" with just a few clicks.
All of that will be manageable via a new Material Design UI, bringing the updates full-circle as well as making the entire experience more enjoyable and intuitive.
A clearer interface
All of that will be manageable via a new Material Design UI, bringing the updates full-circle as well as making the entire experience more enjoyable and intuitive. The redesign means that splits time spent in applications and limits on apps into two distinct sections housed under top-bar tabs.
The first section is labeled 'Activity' and hasn't been fully detailed by Google just yet. Judging by the name alone, that will likely house a detailed history of time spent in applications, presumably similar to the data shown in the Web & App Activity section in Google Account settings on a device or online.
Under the second tab, labeled 'Limits', users will find a sortable list of applications. Those with a blue hourglass and a period of time noted are those that have been limited. Blocked apps show the standard dashed circle icon while unrestricted apps show a blank hourglass. Tapping those allows time restrictions to be set on an app-by-app basis and fine-tuned down to an exact number of hours and minutes.
The button to provide bonus time follows a similar flow as the limit-setting options but is found on the primary card highlighting whether a device has been locked down or not. The button is placed next to the standard option allowing a parent to lock down the device immediately.
Aside from the new parental controls, Android Q has seen a few substantial updates at this year's I/O event too. The third of six releases planned for the developer preview process is now rolling out and available for download for a wider variety of handsets from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Sony, LG and others bringing a few major changes to the upcoming firmware update.
The most sought-after change is likely to be the inclusion of a toggleable system-wide dark mode to be found in the settings menu. Beyond that, security and privacy controls have been improved with the latest update, in addition to more effective use and other improvements to Digital Wellbeing-based features. Gesture support will be more widely available too.
Android Q is currently expected to be finalized by late summer of this year, bringing Family Link integration with it.