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Any Tech news » iOS http://anytechnews.com Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:43:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.9 Get ready for the coming iOS 11 'appocalypse' http://anytechnews.com/get-ready-for-the-coming-ios-11-appocalypse/ http://anytechnews.com/get-ready-for-the-coming-ios-11-appocalypse/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 21:16:44 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/get-ready-for-the-coming-ios-11-appocalypse/

Imagine unlocking your iPhone and scrolling to your favorite app only to find that when you tap on it, it doesn’t work any more. Well, if you’re still relying on an old app that hasn’t been updated recently, iOS 11 will be the end of the line.

Read also: iPhone 8: What we think we know

The end is nigh for all 32-bit iOS apps

As the WWDC 2017 keynote opener, Apple kicked off with a video titled “Appocalypse,” which took a light-hearted look at the turmoil that would result if people’s favorite apps suddenly stopped working. It’s a bit of fun from Apple to highlight the importance of apps — and their developers — not only to Apple but to society as a whole.

But what Apple didn’t say was that there is an ‘appocalypse’ coming, and that the end is indeed nigh for a whole class of iOS apps.

Apps that you might be relying on.

For some time now, Apple has been warning iPhone and iPad users that legacy 32-bit apps may slow down their devices, but with the recent release of iOS 10.3, Apple has escalated things by making it clear that the end is nigh.

If you’ve seen the warning (shown below) in relation to an app you use, then that app is a 32-bit app and Apple is getting ready to withdraw support as soon as iOS 11 is released, which is likely to be in September.

Warning in iOS 10.3 than a 32-bit app will soon stop working.

One study suggests the number could be around 187,000 apps, or some 8 percent of the 2.4 million apps in Apple’s App Store, with apps in the games, education, and entertainment categories being the hardest hit.

So, what do you need to do to get ready for the coming ‘appocalypse?’

The first thing you need to do is check for app compatibility using the built-in checker tool (you need to be running iOS 10.3 or later for this to work). Go to Settings > General > About > Applications:

Listing of 32-bit apps in iOS 10.3

From there, you’ll get a list of all the 32-bit apps on your iPhone or iPad that won’t run on iOS 11. If you’re lucky, you won’t have any apps listed, or the apps that are listed will be old stuff that you forgot you had installed and no longer use.

However, if an app that you are relying on is listed, then you need to get ready for its demise.

The first thing to do is check to see if there’s an updated app, because sometimes developers release a new app rather than update the old app. If getting a replacement is that simple, then you’re in luck.

But if there isn’t an update, then you need to start preparing now for the app to stop working as soon as you update to iOS 11. You might be able to put off upgrading for a while, but the idea of holding back on an upgrade that will contain security updates for any length of time in untenable.

If the app is a game or something you use for entertainment, then its loss won’t be all that critical, but if it’s something that you rely on for work, then its demise has the potential to be a significant productivity speed bump.

So here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • If the app holds any of you data, you need to look at how to get your data out of the app. This may be easy, or it may be horribly difficult. Hopefully, it’s not impossible. If the app stores its data in the cloud using a provider such as Dropbox, then this might make getting your hands on it easier.
  • You need to find a replacement app. This means firing up the App Store app and spending time doing research.
  • You may need to get your existing data into the new app. Again, this may be easy, or it may be horribly difficult.
  • You will need to test to see whether the replacement app.

Good luck! You might need it.

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iOS 11 on the iPad Pro is still missing one important feature http://anytechnews.com/ios-11-on-the-ipad-pro-is-still-missing-one-important-feature/ http://anytechnews.com/ios-11-on-the-ipad-pro-is-still-missing-one-important-feature/#comments Thu, 08 Jun 2017 21:07:35 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/ios-11-on-the-ipad-pro-is-still-missing-one-important-feature/

Apple on Monday announced significant changes are coming to the iPad’s operating system this fall with the release of iOS 11.

The changes demoed on stage made it clear Apple is working hard at changing user behavior – and perhaps more importantly, perception – of the iPad lineup. Instead of viewing and using the device for watching movies or passively checking email, Apple wants users to treat it as a computer. Or as ZDNet’s Ross Rubin puts it, with iOS 11 Apple’s iPad has a grown up.

As someone who used to work primarily on an iPad Pro, and eventually grew too frustrated with the lack of meaningful updates to improve the computing experience, I am very intrigued and hopeful about the changes in iOS 11.


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The new app switcher, for example, makes it easy to visualize what you are working on and quickly find apps. Drag and drop eliminate unnecessary steps to share text or photos between documents and apps. The Files app will eliminate the need to bounce between apps to find a document.

These are all things I’ve wanted on the iPad Pro from day one.


However, there’s one feature I’m disappointed not to see in iOS 11: Multiple user support.

Sharing a computer is commonplace among families, and why should the iPad line be any different? From a feature and perception standpoint, the iPad would certainly benefit from it.

Proper multiple-user support on an iPad is no doubt a tricky feature to figure out. Allocating storage, managing user accounts and app installs all have to be taken into account.

Yet, Apple solved those engineering challenges with Shared iPad for classrooms in January of 2016. As each student logs into his or her assigned iPad, the device will download apps, homework, and assignments. In other words, the device looks and works just as the student left it.

It’s unfortunate Apple hasn’t yet decided to bring the same feature to the iPad for the average user, outside of a classroom.

Perhaps the combination of releasing a $329 iPad to spur purchases amid a consistent decline of tablet sales is enough motivation to not release a feature that will surely cut back on the number of tablets sold.

It’s difficult to say why Apple continues to keep an important computer-like feature from the iPad lineup, but maybe, hopefully, one day soon, the iPad will gain one of the last features on my personal checklist for it to truly replace a laptop.

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Microsoft adds ability to add, edit contacts in Outlook on iOS http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-adds-ability-to-add-edit-contacts-in-outlook-on-ios/ http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-adds-ability-to-add-edit-contacts-in-outlook-on-ios/#comments Tue, 06 Jun 2017 21:05:42 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-adds-ability-to-add-edit-contacts-in-outlook-on-ios/

Microsoft (finally) has added one of the most requested features to Outlook mobile: The ability to add and edit contacts.


Credit: Microsoft

The company is adding this feature first to Outlook for iOS, according to a June 5 blog post, though it doesn’t specify exactly when it will be live. On Outlook for Android, this capability is still labeled — as it has been for a year or more, I believe — as “coming soon.”

When I switched an Android phone a year-plus ago, I didn’t realize immediately that I couldn’t save contacts to the default contacts app on my phone. I really liked the Outlook on Android app at first, but this limitation, plus some sync issues I began having at the end of last year, which required me to reset my Outlook app on a regular basis — led me to look for alternatives.

Happily, I discovered Nine Mail, a fully featured Outlook-on-Android alternative from 9Folders Inc. that I’ve been using ever since. Although Outlook is free for Android phones and Nine costs $9.99, I am still glad I switched.

According to Microsoft’s blog post today, contact cards in Outlook mobile also are being redesigned. From the post:

“Tap on any name in your messages or events to access phone numbers, email addresses and other details, like Skype IDs, along with your contact’s picture. Tapping a phone number will allow you to choose between calling, messaging or FaceTiming your contact.

“The new contact card now also displays your recent conversations, shared attachments and any upcoming meetings you have with that person.”

There are still some limits as to what Outlook can do regarding contact editing.

Today’s post says “due to the underlying capabilities of iOS and Android, Outlook provides a one-way push of contact information from Outlook to your phone. Newly added contacts and changes made in Outlook will sync to your built-in Contacts app. However, edits made in the contacts app will not sync back to Outlook or your email service.”

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WWDC 2017: iOS 11 revealed with more Siri smarts, AR support http://anytechnews.com/wwdc-2017-ios-11-revealed-with-more-siri-smarts-ar-support/ http://anytechnews.com/wwdc-2017-ios-11-revealed-with-more-siri-smarts-ar-support/#comments Mon, 05 Jun 2017 21:04:50 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/wwdc-2017-ios-11-revealed-with-more-siri-smarts-ar-support/

Apple has taken the wraps off of iOS 11, the next iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads. As usual, there are a bevy of features lined up for the new OS, along with a few clues as to what’s next on the device front.

“This is going to be the best and biggest WWDC ever,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, as he kicked off the keynote in San Jose, Calif. By the time iOS was on deck, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, took over to outline the latest iOS changes. Here’s a quick look:

Messages: In iOS 11, a redesigned apps drawer now brings up apps and stickers in Messages. iMessages are also automatically synchronized in iCloud, which helps to optimize storage by reducing the size of the cache.

Apple Pay: This is a big one — Apple Pay is now available for person-to-person payments. It’s integrated with messages as an iMessage app so money is sent and received right in the transcript. Federighi said Apple Pay will be available at 50 percent of US retailers by the end of this year.

Siri: Apple’s AI assistant Siri is getting smarter. Apple says it used deep learning to create a more natural sounding voice and change how Siri’s words are intoned and inflected. Additionally, Siri now uses on-device learning to suggest topics that might be of interest to users, based on Safari searches. For instance, upon entering the News app, the system will recommend certain articles based on browsing history. Similarly, Siri predicts when you might be typing an unusual word in Messages, based on Safari searches, and offers it in autocorrect.

Maps: The big change in Maps comes in the form of Mall Mode, which provides detailed floor plans of malls and lets users browse by floor. Apple is also bringing the support to major airports. There are also some updates to speed limit notifications and navigation.

ARKit: This is a new platform that will assist in the development of AR apps and tools. Services include motion tracking, plane estimation, ambient light estimation, scale estimation, and support for Unity, Unreal, and SceneKit.

HomeKit: Will now be able to access smart speakers inside HomeKit by way of multi-room audio support. Third-party audio apps will also gain access to the multi-room audio capability.

App Store: “We’re going to do something we’ve never done before. We’re going to completely redesign it,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said of the App Store. Apps are getting their own tab, similar to the existing Games tab.

Redesigns: The Control Center is getting a major redesign and is now a single page. 3D touch was also integrated into design to offer more feature access. Additionally, Lock Screen and Notification center were combined. Now, swiping down on the page brings up the lock screen with some notifications, and swiping up brings up all notifications.

iPad: Federighi said iOS 11 is the largest iOS release for iPad that Apple has ever done. Some new features include a new, larger dock with a predictive area and more apps. iPad is also getting Files, Apple’s new universal file system that brings together all files on the device. Files supports not only iCloud but also third party storage providers.

The conference keynote on Monday included updates for all four of Apple’s operating systems; in addition to the iOS, that includes OS X, watchOS, and tvOS. A beta of iOS 11 is available today to all developers. It will ship to everyone this fall.

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Apple opens first Southeast Asia store in Singapore http://anytechnews.com/apple-opens-first-southeast-asia-store-in-singapore/ http://anytechnews.com/apple-opens-first-southeast-asia-store-in-singapore/#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 20:52:42 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/apple-opens-first-southeast-asia-store-in-singapore/

Apple will officially open its retail store in Singapore on May 27, marking its first outlet in Southeast Asia and touted to be the first in the city-state to operate fully on solar power.

Located along Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping strip, the new two-storey retail space featured a glass facade–spanning 36.57 metres long and comprising glass panels each 14 metres high–as well as a 7.62-metres long canopy to provide shelter from the city-state’s tropical climate. The store also was flanked by two curved Castania stone staircases, which design was inspired by the Apple Park campus in Cupertino.

According to Apple, the Orchard Road outfit currently had 237 employees, more than 25 percent of whom were existing employees that moved from call centres or other parts of the business. It comprised two Genius Groves, in which customers could sit through hands-on sessions or get help from Apple’s technical consultants.

The new store and the company’s local operations also ran fully on solar power, the result of a “long-term contract” Apple signed with Singapore-based solar energy provider, Sunseap Group. This was part of the iPhone maker’s goal to power all of its facilities worldwide entirely on renewable energy, including hydro and wind power.

The Orchard Road site would join Apple’s global network of almost 500 stores worldwide that were visited by more than 1 million a day, it said.

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, said: “We view our stores as a modern-day town square, where visitors come to shop, be inspired, learn, or connect with others in their community.”

The vendor in January confirmed plans to open a store in South Korea, but would not reveal an official opening date. Local reports said construction for the retail space had began in Seoul and was estimated to be completed by end-November.


Photo credit: Aloysius Low/CNET

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iPhone Live Photos: Now Apple opens it up to the web to boost sharing http://anytechnews.com/iphone-live-photos-now-apple-opens-it-up-to-the-web-to-boost-sharing/ http://anytechnews.com/iphone-live-photos-now-apple-opens-it-up-to-the-web-to-boost-sharing/#comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:58:38 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/iphone-live-photos-now-apple-opens-it-up-to-the-web-to-boost-sharing/

Live Photos on the iPhone 6S and newer takes a 1.5 clip either side of a still photo and combines them into three-second clip with sound.

Image: Apple

Expect to see more of Apple’s Live Photos format moving images thanks to a new Live Photo API for sharing and playing them on the web.

Live Photos is a nifty feature on the iPhone 6S and later models that turns a still photo into a three-second clip, making an image that’s also a short movie. The catch is that sharing the clips with friends is largely limited to those who’ve also got an iPhone or Mac.

The other way of sharing them on the web is by using Google Photos’ Motion Stills feature, which cleans up Live Photos and coverts them to videos or GIFs.

But, according to 9to5Mac, Apple has introduced a new option to bring Live Photos to the web via a JavaScript-based API for Live Photos called LivePhotosKit. It caters to developers rather than users, but is likely to result in more websites allowing users to share their Live Photos on those sites.

“This new JavaScript-based API makes it easy to embed Live Photos on your websites. In addition to enabling Live Photos on iOS and macOS, you can now let users display their Live Photos on the web,” Apple notes on its developer news page.

Apple provided a demonstration of two clips kicking into motion with the mouse over the Live icon.

According to Apple’s documentation, developers can use LivePhotoKit to create a Live Photos Player on their webpages. The player is supported on all major browsers for iOS, macOS, and Windows, as well as beta for Chrome on Android.

“The JavaScript API presents the player in the form of a DOM element, much like an image or video tag, which can be configured with photo and video resources and other options, and have its playback controlled either programmatically by the consuming developer, or via pre-provided controls by the browsing end-user,” Apple explains.

The new toolkit from Apple follows Tumblr’s launch of Live Photos for the web, which filled the then lack of an official way from Apple to add Live Photos to websites.

Read more on Apple

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Free to iPhone, iPad, Mac users: Apple is now giving away its iWork and iLife apps http://anytechnews.com/free-to-iphone-ipad-mac-users-apple-is-now-giving-away-its-iwork-and-ilife-apps/ http://anytechnews.com/free-to-iphone-ipad-mac-users-apple-is-now-giving-away-its-iwork-and-ilife-apps/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:57:37 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/free-to-iphone-ipad-mac-users-apple-is-now-giving-away-its-iwork-and-ilife-apps/

Apple’s move to make the software free will help users with older hardware or who’ve deleted apps bundled with new hardware purchases.

Image: Apple

Apple has made its iWork productivity suite, as well as iMovie and GarageBand, for iOS and macOS devices free.

The Apple-made apps that are now free to download include iWork apps Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, rivals to Microsoft’s Office suite and Google Docs. Apple’s two remaining iLife apps, GarageBand and iMovie, are also free.

The new price drop is unlikely to change much for owners of newer Apple hardware. Apple has included each of the iWork apps for free with every iOS device that was activated at or after September 2013 and free for Mac hardware activated on or after October 2013.

However, customers with devices that were older than these cut-off dates would have to pay for the apps.

The former price for iWork apps was $20 each for Macs, and $10 for the iOS versions, while Garage Band and iMovie for Mac cost $5 and $15, respectively.

Apple has published a document outlining how customers can install the free apps. It’s intended for customers with older hardware or those who’ve deleted apps that were bundled with new hardware purchases.

MacRumors, which first reported the price drop, notes the change makes Apple’s software pricing less confusing for consumers with older hardware. The price change also applies to all customers.

Apple has also published a new document for customers on its Volume Purchase Program such as educational institutions and business, which are now being offered “free managed distribution copies” of the apps.

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Microsoft kills off passwords with Authenticator's new phone logins http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-kills-off-passwords-with-authenticators-new-phone-logins/ http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-kills-off-passwords-with-authenticators-new-phone-logins/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:55:26 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/microsoft-kills-off-passwords-with-authenticators-new-phone-logins/

Just hit ‘Approve’ to sign in to a Microsoft account from your phone.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has rolled-out an update to its Authenticator app for iOS and Android that lets you sign in to Microsoft accounts without using a password.

The update to Authenticator should shave a few seconds off signing into Outlook or other Microsoft accounts, and make life easier for those who’ve picked long, hard-to-remember passwords such as ones created by a password manager.

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Previously, Microsoft Authenticator, like Google’s Authenticator, has been used to generate one-time codes for two-factor authentication sign-in.

Now Microsoft Authenticator can be set up with Microsoft accounts so that users can sign in by tapping an ‘approve’ notification that’s displayed on the phone when signing in on the web. To approve the sign-in, the phone must be unlocked.

If you’re signing in from a browser on the phone, the login page will display a two-digit number. The Authenticator app presents three two-digit combinations and asks you to confirm the correct one.

Users will see a new option on the sign-in page to use Authenticator for a Microsoft account. On iPhones with Touch ID, Authenticator will ask the user to confirm the approval by pressing the home button’s fingerprint reader.

Microsoft’s Identity division argues the new sign-in is easier for users and more secure than using a password alone since, as with two-factor authentication, an attacker would need to have possession of the phone.

“This process is easier than standard two-step verification and significantly more secure than only a password, which can be forgotten, phished, or compromised,” said Alex Simons, director of program management at Microsoft’s Identity Division.

“Using your phone to sign in with PIN or fingerprint is a seamless way to incorporate two account ‘proofs’ in a way that feels natural and familiar,” he added.

If users wish to keep using a password, there is an option to switch back, and Microsoft will remember the preference for the next sign-in.

The feature is available for Authenticator on iOS and Android, but not Windows 10 Mobile. Simons said it’s prioritized support for iOS and Android because Windows 10 Mobile makes up less than five percent of the active users of its Authenticator Apps.

“If/when it becomes a big success on those high-scale platforms, we will evaluate adding support for Windows Phone,” he said.

Read more on Microsoft security

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Apple iPhone 8 to have stainless steel and glass design: Report http://anytechnews.com/apple-iphone-8-to-have-stainless-steel-and-glass-design-report/ http://anytechnews.com/apple-iphone-8-to-have-stainless-steel-and-glass-design-report/#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:53:40 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/apple-iphone-8-to-have-stainless-steel-and-glass-design-report/

CNET/CBS Interactive

Apple is testing an iPhone 8 model with an overhauled look that includes a stainless steel frame, front and rear glass, and new camera positioning, according to Bloomberg.

The premium iPhone model headed to market this fall is said to launch alongside two other iPhone models, in an event that marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s release. The other two iPhone models are expected to be incremental updates to the current iPhone 7.

See also: Noted Apple analyst gives OLED iPhone 8 predictions

Bloomberg reported the premium iPhone model in testing, currently believed to be called the iPhone 8, features an OLED screen covering the entire front of the device. This is a design we’ve seen prevalent in 2017’s flagship smartphones, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8.

The radical change in design could lead to the premium iPhone being delayed “one or two months,” reported Bloomberg. Japanese blog Mac Otakara previously reported a similar delay, adding the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus could launch in September, with the iPhone 8 following after.

Further collaborating with other rumors, Apple is said to integrate a fingerprint scanner in the display. On some iPhone 8 models in testing, the cover glass curves into a steel frame, but the curve is not expected to be dramatic. The stainless steel and glass design could be akin to the iPhone 4.

The three new iPhone models are said to run iOS 11 with a refreshed user interface. Bloomberg reported the software will be announced in June at Apple’s annual developer conference.

See also: How to sync your Google contacts to your iPhone (TechRepublic)

Apple has looked into adding new augmented reality camera features, and according to Bloomberg and Mac Otakara, the rear cameras on the premium iPhone model could be positioned vertically.

The latest iPhone rumors gel well with what has previously circulated. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said the OLED iPhone will adopt wireless charging and a 5.7- to 5.8-inch flexible OLED panel with Samsung as the exclusive supplier.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Apple iPhone 7: Things to consider before choosing:

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Hands-on with Google Family Link: The best parental control service yet http://anytechnews.com/hands-on-with-google-family-link-the-best-parental-control-service-yet/ http://anytechnews.com/hands-on-with-google-family-link-the-best-parental-control-service-yet/#comments Thu, 30 Mar 2017 19:25:01 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/hands-on-with-google-family-link-the-best-parental-control-service-yet/

(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Google Family Link is a new service the company soft-launched in March. It’s designed to help parents keep track of what a child under the age of 13 is doing on an Android device, ranging from app installation to amount of time spent using any given app or the device overall.

As soon as it was announced, I signed up to take part in the beta and have been using it with my kids ever since. In short, Family Link is everything I hoped it would be.


Initial setup of Google’s Family Link is rather painless. The parent needs an Android device with Android 4.4 KitKat or higher. The child, however, will need a newer Android device running Android 7.0 Nougat or above. There are currently nine Android Marshmallow-compatible devices listed on the Family Link FAQ.

Hopefully, Google continues to add devices running older versions of Android to the list, instead of forcing parents to go buy brand new Android devices to meet the requirements. Nougat is currently installed on just 2.8 percent of Android devices.

Eventually, Google will release an iOS Family Link app for parents to monitor, approve, and control a child’s device. During the beta period, however, it’s Android only. Another limitation at this point is that Family Link requires you to live in the US.

It’s time to take control

Setting up your child’s device is simple. First, you need to sign into the Family Link Android app as a guardian and then create an account for each of your children in the Family Link account.

One pain point of the current process is that if you’ve already set up a Google account for your child, lying about his or her age to get around Google’s age policy, you cannot convert that account to a Family Link account. You and your child will need to start with a fresh account.

The Android device you plan on using for your child cannot be set up beforehand.

Singing in takes a few extra minutes than the typical process due Android force-installing the Family Link account and the parent being required to sign in and set control limits on the device. The Family Link app walks you through it, eliminating any potential headaches.

It took roughly 15 minutes for me to create, sign in, and set up three different Family Link accounts and devices.

Just what can you control?


(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Where Family Link truly shines is the amount of control over a device provided by the service. It’s far more robust than I anticipated, giving me granular control over most apps and services on my kids’ devices.

For example, I gave each of my kids access to the Play Store with authority to install any free apps or games. I set the allowed app rating limit to “Everyone 10+.” They were then able to browse the Play Store and download free apps without having to enter a password.

Every time they install a new app, I receive an alert on my phone. I can view the Play Store listing, and if I don’t approve of the app, I can disable it with a tap. Nearly instantaneously the app icon will be hidden on his or her device — without any physical interaction on my part.

In contrast, Apple’s Family Sharing service is an all-or-nothing approach. Either the child has access to download paid and free apps without a parent’s approval or a parent has to approve every single app before installation.

As someone with three kids can attest, kids download a lot of apps, and having to approve each and every one is a time consuming and tedious process. Not only that, but it requires I give my kids their account passwords, which is something I’m not quite ready to do yet.

The only time I have to approve an app before installation when using Family Link is when it’s a paid app.

Of course, if you’d rather accept every app or none at all, you can adjust your Family Link settings to your liking. You can even give one child total control over app installs while locking another completely down.

Beyond app purchases, you can also do things like set which websites a kid can visit in Chrome or block YouTube Kids channels or specific searches.

Family feed


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

A feed is created for each Family Link account within the app, making it easy to keep tabs on what your kids have been doing on their devices.

A breakdown of the time spent using specific apps over the past seven and 30 days makes it easy to see if he or she was doing homework or playing games.

You can also view the device’s current location (assuming it’s connected to the internet) and sound an alarm to locate it.

Another one of my favorite features in Family Link is scheduling, daily limits, and locking a device on demand. Parents can schedule dedicated downtime for each kid, whether it’s for homework, dinner, or bedtime. Once the scheduled time arrives, the device is locked, and the child cannot use it — at all — until the time expires.

Daily use limits are a nice touch, as well. You can allow your kid to use his or her device for an hour during the school week and three hours on the weekend, and Family Link will keep track and lock the device for you.

When you lock a device on demand, it defaults to unlocking at 6 am the next morning.

Scheduling is yet another area Family Link beats Apple’s Family Sharing solution for managing a child’s device. The only way to remotely lock an iOS device is through the Find My iPhone app as a preventative theft measure.

Family Link truly is a dream come true

When Google first announced Family Link, I quickly expressed my excitement about its potential. After using it since shortly after its beta announcement, I can confidently say it is everything Google claims it is.

In fact, I wish Apple would copy Family Link features and implement them into iOS — only because my kids just got an iPod Touch for Christmas, and the idea of trying to sell and purchase devices just to have better control over their tech use is far too much work.

If you’re interested in giving Family Link a try with your family, you can sign up to take part in the beta on the Family Link website.

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