Microsoft Family Safety is more or less just what the name implies: It’s Microsoft’s family safety and parental controls app that you can use to manage your kid’s screen time and device usage.
To use the service, you need to install the Microsoft Family Safety app on each mobile device you want to manage, and every family member you want to track needs a Microsoft account.
What to know about Microsoft Family Safety
Once configured, Microsoft Family Safety monitors the screen time and time spent with specific games and apps on phones, tablets, and Xbox. Parents can do more than just monitor usage as well: You can turn on screen time limits and schedules, and filter specific apps and web browsing. The app also tracks locations using mobile device GPS, so you can see where your family members are.
Most of these features are free, though some premium features are only available if you have a subscription to Microsoft 365 Family, most notably location alerts and drive safety features.
How to get started with Microsoft Family Safety
To use Microsoft Family Safety, you’ll need to install the app on each of your family member’s devices. You can install Microsoft Family Safety for Android or for iOS. Start by installing it on your mobile device as a parent and sign in to your Microsoft account.
Unless you’ve already created a family group, you’ll initially be the only member of your family. Tap “Add a family member” and enter their email address associated with their Microsoft account. If your child doesn’t yet have a Microsoft account, tap “Create a child account” and follow the instructions to create one for them. They will get an invitation to join your family group; if needed, help them accept the invitation and get started with Family Safety.
Be sure to install the Microsoft Family Safety app on each of your kids’ devices, signing them into their own Microsoft accounts.
Using the map and tracking your family’s location
Microsoft Family Safety displays the location of your family members on a map, as long as you’ve enabled that feature in Settings.
To see the map, start Microsoft Family Safety and tap “Map” at the top of the screen. You should see pins for each family member.
If you want to, you can add saved locations to the map, which Microsoft calls “places.” When someone goes to that location, you’ll see it displayed on the family member’s card on the home page, so you can tell at a glance where they are.
Apple and Google have banned X-Mode, a major data broker, from collecting location from users whose mobile devices run iOS and Android, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The tech giants told developers they must remove X-Mode’s tracking software or risk being cut off from their app stores — and therefore the vast majority of mobile devices globally.
The move by Apple and Google follows recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Vice News about X-Mode’s national security contracts and congressional scrutiny over how government agencies purchase Americans’ location data from private companies.
Apple and Google have banned X-Mode Social, a major data broker, from collecting mobile location data from iOS and Android users following criticism of its national security work, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The tech giants are requiring developers to remove X-Mode’s tracking software from their apps or they could get cut off from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, according to The Journal. Apple has given developers two weeks to comply, the newspaper reported.
In a statement to Business Insider, a Google spokesperson said: “We are sending a 7-day warning to all developers using the X-Mode SDK. Apps that need more time due to the complexity of their implementation can request an extension, which can be up to 30 days (including the initial 7-days). If X-Mode is still present in the app after the timeframe, the app will be removed from Play.”
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems power nearly all smartphones worldwide, effectively forcing developers to ditch X-Mode, and the policies mark one of the most direct actions against a specific data broker.
“X-Mode collects similar mobile app data as most location and advertising SDKs in the industry. Apple and Google would be setting the precedent that they can determine private enterprises’ ability to collect and use mobile app data,” an X-Mode spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.
X-Mode is still trying to get information from Apple and Google on why its tracking software is different than what other location data companies – or even Apple and Google themselves – collect, the spokesperson added.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
The moves by Apple and Google follow recent reports about how X-Mode sells users’ location data to US defense contractors, and by extension US military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies – contracts that have drawn scrutiny from lawmakers who argue it undermines Americans’ privacy rights by allowing the government to avoid having to obtain search warrants.
Both Apple and Google disclosed their new policies banning X-Mode to investigators working on behalf of Sen. Ron Wyden, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wyden has been investigating how private companies collect and sell Americans’ mobile location data to the government, often without their knowledge, and has proposed legislation that would ban the practice.
Vice News reported in November that X-Mode collects location data from users via as many as 400 apps, including Muslim prayer and dating apps, weather apps, and fitness trackers, and then sells that data to contractors that work with the US Air Force, US Army, and US Navy. X-Mode CEO Josh Anton told CNN Business in April the company tracks 25 million devices in the US every month.
The Wall Street Journal also reported last month that the US Air Force is indirectly using location data from X-Mode to monitor internet-of-things devices.