Giving an iPhone or iPad to your child may be this generation’s Pandora’s Box, opening up a world of distraction — and possibly worse — for your little one. A new service, launching today from Seattle-based tech company Intego, aims to solve that problem using the same tools that Fortune 500 companies use to maintain employees’ iPhones, wrapped in an easy-to-use interface.
Family Protector uses Apple’s Mobile Device Management services to control access to apps, disable the Internet during certain periods, and even lock the phone during mealtimes or after bedtime.
While other parental control apps work by routing traffic through a VPN or jailbreaking the phone, Intego says it combed through the abilities of the Mobile Device Management software to create a deeply embedded solution for managing access to iOS devices.
Devices are managed from any browser, as well as Android and iOS apps. Settings are automatically pushed to the device without input from the child. The service costs $5 per month and covers up to 15 devices, with unlimited administration privileges.
Intego has been building software for 18 years, originally focusing on providing virus protection for the Mac. It was founded in France in 1997, but CEO Jeff Erwin helped establish the Seattle headquarters when he was hired in 2011. He had previously worked as a general manager at Microsoft.
To set up Family Protector, a parent needs to open a URL on the target device (an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 8 or later) to add it the account, then choose the owner’s age range from their personal dashboard. After that, parents can customize settings from Intego’s age-based suggestions.
Parents can schedule access to the device, or to certain functions like apps, iTunes or App stores, and cameras.
“There’s no good use for the camera after bedtime,” Erwin said.
Safari is replaced with Intego’s Rook browser. Children can be given blanket access to the entire web with mom or dad getting the browsing history, or access can be limited to a list of specific sites. Parents will get an alert if the child wants to access a new site, plus the ability to review the page before granting access.
Parents can also lock a device for a scheduled period of time, with calling the parent or an emergency number as the only option. Parents can even turn on a “time out” mode by toggling a switch on the dashboard
Family Protector marks another evolution of the Intego’s offerings, expanding beyond its focus on antivirus and security. This is the first mobile application for Intego. Most recently, the company has introduced Mac products to restrict desktop browsing habits for home users and monitor web usage at small businesses.
With around 61 percent of kids on iOS, Intego is focusing on Apple products right now but may consider other mobile platforms down the road.
Bessemer Venture Partners acquired Intego in 2007. Erwin had previously worked for another Bessemer-backed venture, Pure Networks, which was sold to Cisco Systems in 2008.