The tech worlds are abuzz with news of the upcoming updates to iOS and Windows. iOS is the operating system for Apple’s mobile devices. iPhones, iPods and iPads all share the same operating system. The next update is iOS 6 and is slated for release this fall (possibly as soon as September 12 according to some reports).
Windows is Microsoft’s operating system, used by the majority of PC users. Windows 8 will also be released this fall, available as a $40 upgrade for current Windows 7 users.
According to reports from developers and beta testers, who receive early versions of these updates, there are some changes that parents will want to note.
Changes in iOS 6
No more native YouTube app
One of the most common questions I’m asked is – how do I block YouTube on my child’s iPod touch? Well, pretty soon you won’t have to. Apple has reported that they will not include their native YouTube app in iOS 6. I’m not sure what this means for those of us updating from an earlier version, but any new devices will not have the YouTube app.
While many parents will be applauding this decision, remember that YouTube will still be available through the Safari browser. And it’s possible that Google (owner of YouTube) will develop their own YouTube app. So if you are concerned about your kids watching inappropriate videos on their iDevice, you’ll want to block Safari, choose a kid-safe browser that blocks YouTube’s website, and restrict app purchases.
Disable the Home Button with Guided Access
This is noted as an accessibility improvement, but could also be seen as a parental control feature. Parents and teachers will be able to disable the Home button to keep kids within the current app.
Some will see this as a good thing, and some will be shaking their heads in dismay. Twitter is already integrated, with the option to “Tweet” from Photos, Safari and other apps. Looks like the same type of sharing will be available for Facebook. This might be of concern to parents who are worried about their teen’s use of social media. The more you see the option, the more you might think about using it. No word yet on the ability to block the feature.
May be too early to tell, but it doesn’t seem like any new parental control features are being introduced, at least judging from the iOS 6 promo page on Apple’s website. Hello, Apple?
[Update – the iOS6 update does bring the ability to restrict iMessage. While not found under “Restrictions” you can still now disable iMessage.]
Changes in Windows 8
Time control in Windows 8
Windows 7 already has some robust built-in parental control features. You can already limit a child’s account for certain times of the day. For example you can specify that Jimmy can only use the computer between 4pm-8pm on weekdays, and any time on weekends. But now you’ll also be able to specify the total time per day (time allowance), such as 2 hours per day on weekdays and 4 hours per day on weekends.
Easier set up for kids’ user accounts
From the screenshots I’ve seen on the Microsoft blogs, setting up user accounts for each child and adding the Family Safety option is easier than before. Once set up, you can activate the features you want to use. You’ll also get an activity report sent in e-mail so you can monitor what the kiddos are doing on the computer.
Additional features you can activate are Safe Search, Web Filtering, Application and Game Restrictions, and the above mentioned time limits. Check out this blog post from Microsoft for a preview of these features (scroll down for the video).
When should I update to iOS6 and Windows 8?
This is up to you, of course, but I generally like to wait a few weeks before upgrading to any new operating system. Sometimes there are bug fixes that come out during the first few weeks. I like to wait and see what the general consensus is before taking the plunge. However I may update my iPhone as soon as possible once the update is available so that I can review it here for the rest of you! Check back next month for more information.