Android’s latest version is out. When can you update? Does it matter?

by Screen Time Team on 27/10/2015

When will my device be updated?

Android Marshmallow Release Dates

What does that mean for Parents and Screen Time users?

There isn’t a monumental change between your current Android OS (Lollipop) and Marshmallow, but there are some nice little features tucked away that could be useful for managing kids’ device time.

Handy features for Screen Time parents

App Permissions

This will interest anyone that wants to know exactly what apps have access to on your child’s device. It used to be that when you installed an app on Android it would ask you for a whole host of permissions right from the get go, and when an app is asking for access to your camera, location or even your files then it can get a little scary.

App draw permission

Why do they want those permissions? What will they do when they have them? These are perfectly normal questions to be asking each time you install an app. Marshmallow is lending a helping hand, as now you will only have to give permissions to apps when the app needs them. This means there won’t be a huge list of permissions to give when you first install.

What does this mean for Screen Time users?

The only permission the Screen Time app asks for when installing is to ‘Permit drawing over other apps’. This allows Screen Time to jump on top of other apps when it needs to block them.

We try to keep app permissions to a minimum, but this is one that we need in order for Screen Time to do it’s job, it doesn’t allow access to any other apps or information on the device.

System UI Tuner

Possibly one of the most interesting features for parents and Screen Timers is the System UI Tuner, but it’s also the most well hidden. In order to access this feature you first need to enable it by holding down the gear icon in the Android notification tray. Once the gear starts spinning (which can be hard to see because your fingers are covering it), you can stop holding down the gear. You should see a message telling you it’s been enabled.

How to enable System UI Tuner

Screen Time allows you to do an ‘all-or-nothing’ block of the Android Settings app, but if you’re trying to block things like Wi-Fi or Aeroplane Mode then kids can still access them through the shortcuts. But once it’s enabled you can open the System UI Tuner from the Android Settings app. You can press Quick Settings and drag any feature to a bin at the bottom by holding down on the icon.

When combined with blocking the Android Settings app using Screen Time this is a helpful feature for preventing access to Android Settings like Wi-Fi, Aeroplane Mode and Mobile Data.

Longer Battery Life

When your phone runs out of battery, but when your kids’ phone dies it interferes with their ability to contact someone in an emergency. Marshmallow puts your device into something similar to Aeroplane Mode when it’s on standby. There isn’t a setting to disable this new feature, it just comes already enabled by default, but this means that your kids’ devices will have more time on standby, and therefore less chance of their phone having no battery in an emergency.

Although this mode is similar to Aeroplane Mode, important messages and calls will still come through on your child’s devices immediately.

Default Apps

Anyone that’s had to set the default Web browser in Android can tell you how complicated and messy it can be, so it’s good to see that Android have attempted to fix this in Marshmallow.

If you go into Android Settings >> Apps and press the cog icon in the top right you’ll see a screen where you can set the default app that is used for phone calls, Web browsing and SMSs.

There are of course other little improvements and new features in Android Marshmallow, these are just the ones that we think will be most useful to parents. If you’re interested in what else has been changed then take a look at one of the more in-depth articles out there. But all in all, Android’s latest release isn’t going to have a major impact on how you manage your children’s device time.


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  • Eugenio Tavolaro - 31/07/2016 reply

    Actually Marshmallow had a bigger impact on Screen Time whan what is described here, as I cannot remotely track web history and search history on a phone with Android 6.0.1? W/o clear plans to fix this I am not going to move from my current trial version to the paid one.

    Oli - 31/07/2016 reply

    You’re right Eugenio, we weren’t aware of that problem when we wrote this article. I will get it amended. I’m afraid we don’t have an estimated time for fixing this problem, sorry if that means that you’ll be looking elsewhere for your parental control app.

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