Google Assistant gains new parental controls, child-friendly responses and voices – TechCrunch

Following the recent introduction of parent-controlled watchlists on Google TV and sound redesign parental control app Family Link, Google today announced that it is also bringing parental controls to its Google Assistant platform. The new features will be rolling out over the next few weeks to Google Home, as well as the Family Link and Google Assistant apps on iOS and Android, and will allow parents to limit or even completely disable certain Assistant features, set up kid-friendly settings, adjust downtimes and more.

Additionally, the settings will allow parents to configure default services, prevent children from making calls, and limit the type of responses they can get from the assistant. The update will also introduce new child-friendly features and new voices.

Picture credits: Google

With new Assistant features, parents will be able to select which music and video providers the child has access to, including YouTube Kids, YouTube and YouTube Music. This prevents them from exploring content from other services.

With parental controls, parents and guardians can specify which features their child can access through the assistant – like whether they can make phone calls on smart speakers, whether they can use Google Actions, what kind of responses they receive (basic or all, the latter of which might contain mature content), whether they can play music or videos, whether videos are filtered and more. Parents can also choose to disable access to news and podcasts on their child’s devices if they prefer.

A new feature called Kids Dictionary is also being added to provide the ability to ask Google Assistant for more age-appropriate answers. When the wizard detects using the voice match function When a child asks a question, they can switch to the children’s dictionary to answer with definitions that are easy to understand and better suited to younger children. It will work on smart speakers, smart displays, and mobile devices, Google notes.

Additionally, Google Assistant will gain four new child-friendly voices that speak a little slower and in a more expressive style, designed to improve the Assistant’s storytelling abilities and help with comprehension.

To complement Google’s existing Screen Time controls for other devices, parents will also be able to set up off times for Assistant. This way, children could not stay awake after bedtime by asking the assistant questions or playing music or games, for example.

Picture credits: Google

The changes are part of a wider set of reactions among tech giants to growing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over how their tech products are used by children, how they protect privacy or not. children, what type of data is collected and how it is used. In light of these developments, Google last year introduces increased protections for minors on its platforms, including search, YouTube and other applications.

More recently, however, Google has focused on allowing parents to adjust specific settings in certain Google services to provide additional protections more suited to their own family’s needs. This month, for example, the company reimagined its leading parental control app, Family Link, which now allows parents to set up geofences with alerts and make ad-hoc adjustments to screen time without changing their normal schedule, among other things. The company also presented new parent-controlled watchlists to its TV platform, Google TV, as well as AI suggestions for kids.

New Assistant features can be changed in supported apps or with voice commands, such as “Hey Google, open Assistant settings” or “Hey Google, change your voice”. They will become more widely available in the coming weeks.

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