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Google I/O 2015: Google Play Launches New Family-Friendly Features

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Google announced a bunch of new releases during its recent Google I/O 2015 at San Francisco's Moscone Center — and there's lots of be excited about.

While the big news was surrounding Android M, Android Pay, the update to Google Cardboard, and unlimited free storage for the new Google Photos platform, parents will also be pleased to learn about a few new features that were added to Google Play specifically for them.

If you are a parent, then you probably have been in the situation when your child becomes fussy and is in the need of some entertainment. While you may be quick to hand over your smartphone or tablet, it may be too late when you find your tech-savvy child accessing a game, movie, TV show or book that you didn't want them getting their hands on.

Now sharing content with your children is about to become a lot easier. Google Play announced the launch of a few family-friendly features that will help parents find appropriate apps and content.

"Whether you're trying to entertain a toddler on a crowded plane, encourage your child's newfound love of reading or simply find a movie for the whole family to enjoy, finding the right content should be just a tap or two away," says Google spokesperson Matt McLernon in an email. "Parents want the best for their kids, but when it comes to digital entertainment, it can be difficult to know what to look for."

Here's a look at the new features.

Follow The Family Star

The first new feature is the Family tab that is now included on the homepage of the Apps, Games, and Movies & TV section, which allows parents to browse through content that is suitable for children with just a tap.

To easily find age-appropriate content, follow the Family Star. By tapping the Family Star button, parents can view content that is organized by ages, so they can easily find a learning app for their toddler or a summer reading eBook for their teen.

 

The Family Star badge will display the specific age group the app, movie or book is designed for, so that parents can make smarter choices on what types of content their children are exposed to. No longer do they have to second-guess if a cartoon was really for adults or if their young child will be able to understand and learn from a specific book or app.

Play With Favorite Characters

Every child has a favorite character. Whether your child is obsessed with Elsa from Frozen or the characters from Sesame Street, Google Play is making it easier for them to see all related content — movies, books and apps — by creating special pages featuring some of these top characters.

"Kids (and adults, too) fall in love with characters like Dora the Explorer and Pororo," McLernon says. "So to make it easy to find apps, games, movies and more from those characters, we've made special collections around dozens of them you can find within the family experience."

Popular characters include: Peppa Pig, Shaun the Sheep, Barney, SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Strawberry Shortcake.

Parental Controls

Making family-friendly content easier to find is important, but none of that matters if kids can still access the kinds of things that are off-limits to them. Updates to parental controls will now allow parents to restrict downloads, purchases or streaming of future content.

But do the new parental controls prevent age-inappropriate ads from popping up? McLernon says yes. The first way is by adding information on app pages that tell parents if the app has ads or not so they can make that decision.

"Second, any app in the family experience that has ads needs to go through our Designed for Families program, which requires the content ratings of the ads to match the content ratings of the app," says McLernon. "Also, apps in this section have stricter guidelines for ads."

Google Play also has a featured collection in celebration of the launch of these new family-friendly features that includes the music app Crayola DJ from Legacy Games, the educational music and video app Doozers Play-Along Stories from The Jim Henson Company, and the casual-themed game app that teaches kids how to help called Cutie Patootie-Welcome to Town from TabTale.

The new features launched in the U.S. and will continue to roll out globally in the next two weeks.

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