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-Alap Naik Desai

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Google Assistant Gets Parental Controls And Child-Friendly Features

Smart speakers with voice-activated virtual assistants are quite popular. It is now common to see users of all ages seek information, interact, play games, and even engage in conversation with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. There is, however, a looming risk of kids getting exposed to inappropriate content. While Alexa has had parental control and kid-friendly features for a while, Google has just added the feature. The search giant has offered a few more ways its virtual assistant can interact with kids in a way they will understand and enjoy.

Google Assistant Gets Parental Control

Google confirmed yesterday that it is bringing parental controls to its Google Assistant platform. The much-needed feature will be gradually rolled out to Google Assistant apps on iOS and Android, Google Home, and Family Link platforms.

Moving forward, parents, adults, or guardians can limit or even disable access to certain functions that Assistant offers by default. Moreover, parents can adjust downtime, which will silence the Assistant and prevent it from answering any questions or playing music when kids command the device.

Restrictions and limitations seem to be the two most prioritized aspects in the new settings. Parental Control will allow parents to control and configure default services. For example, parents can prevent kids from making calls or using Google Actions via smart speakers.

Additionally, guardians can restrict content that is accessible to children via the virtual assistant. Users can limit access to YouTube Kids for video and Spotify Kids for music, using parental control. Moreover, children may be prevented from listening to news and podcasts. A “Basic” setting will attempt to filter out mature content.

Google Assistant Gets Kid-Friendly Features And Content

Although Parental Control for Google’s virtual assistant seems restrictive, the company has offered quite a few child-friendly features and activities.

Google has added “Kids Dictionary”, a feature that will ensure Google Assistant provides more age-appropriate answers. Interestingly, the voice-activated assistant will recognize a kid’s voice using voice-matching capabilities and automatically switch to Kids Dictionary. Thereafter, Google Assistant will respond with simpler and easier-to-understand information. These may include explanations, definitions, and more that are age-appropriate.

Google Assistant is also getting four new kid-friendly voices. These won’t mimic a child’s voice but will speak a little slower and add a lot more vocal expression. It appears Google wants its Assistant to be better at storytelling, and help children grasp comprehension.

Google has assured that Parental Control and the new children-friendly features will work across smart speakers, smart displays, and mobile devices. These features can be configured, changed, or disabled via supported apps. Parents can even invoke Assistant settings via voice commands such as “Hey Google, open Assistant settings” or “Hey Google, change your voice”. The rollout of these features is gradual, and hence, some devices may get the features sooner than others.

It is interesting to note that Google has been a little late in introducing such features. Amazon offered parental controls for its Alexa virtual assistant quite some time back. Moreover, Amazon has been actively adding kid-friendly features. It seems Google is now playing catch-up.

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