Apple today announced a new feature that will help families stay more connected even if some family members don’t have an iPhone. The company introduced a new feature called Family Setup that allows parents to pair their iPhone with a child’s Apple Watch to stay in touch, get location notifications, use parental controls, and more.
Family Setup allows parents to set controls such as: B. with which contacts the child can communicate via messages. Also, family members can receive location notifications so parents know where the child is and whether they have entered or exited a geofenced area. For a child, this can be school or a basketball exercise.
To some extent, this makes Family Setup a competitor to family mobile tracking apps like Life360, which have become popular tools for families to keep track of each other̵
However, Apple’s advantage in this market is that it positions itself as a privacy-focused company. This means parents may feel like they can trust Apple not to collect their family’s location data or sell it to anyone.
In addition to location tracking, parents can also use Family Setup to configure downtime settings to limit interactions and notifications on the paired watch while the child focuses on schoolwork. Workout integration is also available to track movement.
In the meantime, kids can only make their own Memoji with their Apple Watch, which they can use and send stickers and messages or use in the new Memoji Watch Face.
While the feature set is clearly intended for parents with kids who are too young to have their own phone, it’s unclear how well it will be adopted by parents due to the higher price of the iPhone. It’s cheaper to give a kid a cheap Android device while they’re walking around the neighborhood with friends. In addition, it makes sense for parents who already own older Apple Watches to pass them on to children when upgrading.
Apple also noted that the feature set might make sense for “older adults,” that is, aging relatives who may need a little more active monitoring due to illness.
A cellular model of Apple Watch Series 4 and above is required for the new feature. It will be available at launch at select carrier partners including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon (parent of TechCrunch parent).