Microsoft launches Family Safety app for Android and iOS

Microsoft has launched its Family Safety app for Android and iOS, enabling parents to manage their kids’ app usage and screen time. The company first announced the app back in March, before rolling it out in limited preview two months later — today sees the app made available for one and all.

The Family Safety mobile app ties in with Microsoft’s broader Family Group platform which covers both Windows and Xbox, and is designed to give parents greater oversight and control of everything their offspring is doing online.

Through the app, parents can set time limits for specific apps and games on Android, Xbox, and Windows, while a broader device-management feature allows parents to set screen-time limits across the entire Xbox or Windows machine.

Above: Microsoft Family Safety app: Setting screen time

It’s worth noting that the iOS incarnation of the app has slightly less functionality, insofar it’s not possible to set limits for iPhones or iPads through the Family Safety app — parents have to use Apple devices’ built-in screen time feature for this. However, in a blog post today, Microsoft said that it is currently working to bring similar “digital safety features to iOS, to set screen time and content filters on iPhones.”

Elsewhere, the Family Safety app can be used to set up activity monitors, giving parents a broad overview of their kids’ entire digital activity across Android, Windows, and Xbox via a weekly email report.

Above: Microsoft Family Safety: Activity report

For families that use Microsoft’s Edge browser, the Family Safety app can be used to set web and search filters to block specific types of content and add particular domains to a blocked websites list enacted in Edge across Windows, Xbox, and Android.

Above: Microsoft Family Safety app: Setting content filters for Microsoft Edge

Finally, a built-in “family tracker” enables everyone in a household to share their location and save frequently visited places such as work and school. This also shows each person’s last known location on the map if their phone goes offline.

Above: Microsoft Family Safety app: Location sharing

In the intervening months since Microsoft launched Family Safety in preview, the company has introduced a bunch of updates and new features, including the ability to block specific apps and more options for parents responding to screen time requests.

In the coming months, Microsoft said that it will add some premium features that will ship as part of its Microsoft 365 Family subscription. In the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia, subscribers will get access to a new driver safety functionality for those using their phone behind the wheel, and location alerts will allow parents to see when a specific family member arrives or leaves a specified location.

There are countless other digital wellbeing tools and services out there, including Google’s very own Family Link app for Android. But by tying together mobile, desktop browsing, and video games, Microsoft is pitching Family Safety as a more cohesive cross-platform solution to parents’ concerns.

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