Yesterday, T-Mobile unveiled a new effort called FamilyMode to help parents keep track of their kids' device usage and time spent online. The first part of that is a brand new app, which will let parents remotely control a variety of things, including the option to set limits for apps and device usage, set geofences, and even keep tabs on their kids with real-time location tracking.
The second part of the FamilyMode idea is definitely the most unique. It's called the FamilyMode Home Base, and it's a box that will be connected to a family's Wi-Fi network, and allow parents to keep up with all of the devices connected to the same network. So not just smartphones, but also tablets, smart TVs, laptops, and even video game consoles.
The app is free to download, but to actually use it T-Mobile is charging $10 per month. The Home Base will retail for $20 to start, but at some point in the future it will jump up to $80.
The app itself, along with what it provides access to, isn't all that new. Especially in 2018, where companies like Google and Apple are building features into their platforms that provide at least some of the same features baked right in. Of course, the fact that you don't actually have to touch a kid's device to set limits, set geofences, and more, is a nice touch.
But, the fact that the Un-carrier is charging $120 a year for this seems pretty silly to me. It would be even if Apple and Google weren't already implementing these similar features in iOS and Android, respectively. But the fact that they are --and for free- only makes paying $120 more for just a couple different features doesn't seem worth it to me.
Now, that's if you don't get the Home Base. Forking over some extra upfront cash to get that base station, which lets you set limits on just about every single gadget in your house connected to Wi-Fi. Is that worth $120 a year? I can imagine it would be.
Keeping track of how often we use our devices is an important talking point these days, as it should be. And for parents, being able to set limits on devices our kids have access to is even more important. The question I have right now is whether or not you'll pay a set amount more every year for a few key differences, or if you'll just stick with the built-in features that Apple and Google are offering in their newest versions of their mobile operating systems. Let me know!