Children's launcher and parental controls
The history of the PlayPad Kids Launcher project began a year ago. At that time, we were working on the order “Launcher with parental control functions for the PlayPad2 children's tablet.” It was then that the thought came of creating a children's launcher that can be installed on any Android device.
There are many applications on Google Play that solve the problems of parental control, but we still decided to create a launcher and make it more convenient, simpler, more beautiful and more functional than its analogues. Here is what came of it.
For those who have not yet used similar programs, I would like to briefly go through the main functions:
- Running the child only those applications that you have allowed.
- The ability to prohibit the launch of the Google Play application and make any purchases.
- The ability to ban incoming / outgoing calls and SMS.
- Prevent changes to device settings.
- Protection of access to the settings of parental control and exit from the child’s shell.
With the implementation of these functions, we began work on the application.
For ease of use and customization, 5 categories of applications are allocated: Games, Developing, Educational, Others and Inaccessible to the child. By default, all applications are inaccessible to the child and, accordingly, are in the fifth category. To allow the launch of the application, you just need to drag it into one of the allowed categories.
Unfortunately, in Android you cannot completely deny access to applications, so we have to monitor all running ones. The service is responsible for this, which once a second checks the current application and “blocks” it if it is prohibited (for example: settings from the status bar or applications from the list of recently launched), displaying a message about blocking.
Access to the launcher settings is traditionally protected by a pin code, which can be restored via email in case of loss. We envisioned that the child may request a recovery, thereby invalidating the parent pin. In order to avoid such misunderstandings, we do not change the old pin code until a new one is entered. PIN recovery is available every 15 minutes.
What else is useful
Along with the basic ones, we have implemented several more necessary, in our opinion, chips:
- Temporary restrictions.
- Remote control.
- Location tracking.
You can set time limits on the application category and on any individual application. At the moment, you can either completely block the launch of the application (application category, the entire device), or set the allowed operating time (for example: no more than 2 hours per day). By the way, a minute before the end of the allowed application runtime, a corresponding notification is displayed. As soon as the time runs out, the program is forced to close.
Soon we will add the ability to set a schedule (for example: the allowed start time from 13:00 to 21:00), and it is configured separately for weekdays and weekends.
Especially for parents created an additional application " PlayPad Parental Control", which allows you to remotely control the settings of the Children's Launcher, as well as track the location of the child. In some situations, this application will help to avoid conflicts: it makes no sense to take the device from the child - you can block it remotely.
Only the current location of the child is now available in the tracking section. If you look at the coordinates the child on his own device, then this information is useless, but if you use tracking in conjunction with “Parental Control”, you can always find out where it is now I’m a child. Coordinates are updated every 15 minutes.
Some implementation features
Our launcher does not change the installed wallpaper! During installation and first launch, many launchers replace the wallpaper, and we decided that this is bad practice and most often it is unjustified. We made our own cute background for children, which is shown only while the application is running. This decision eliminates the need for parents to change the wallpaper every time after the child plays on their phone or tablet.
We do not need to create an account! Authorization happens through the Google Account which any device with Google Play has. Of course, I would like to do without it at all, but it is needed in two cases: PIN recovery and remote control.
We paid special attention to the appearance of the launcher. When creating the design, we thought not only about the convenience of the parents, but also about the children. Hence these messy fonts, asymmetric shapes, vivid pictures. As a bonus, we built in the Risovalka widget. It is as simple and original as possible with its black background - it seems that you draw with crayons on the board. For access you just need to swipe the screen to the right.
We are currently working on the following features that users should really like:
- Change of wallpaper.
- Improved tracking and tracking.
- Create your own application categories.
- Extended time limits with the ability to set a separate schedule for weekdays and weekends.
Further more. We look forward to your comments and suggestions. Thanks.