Recently, Google updated their Family Link program with Chromebook support, to help families supervise Chromebook usage. However, this initial Chrome OS version of Family Link did not allow child accounts to use the (initially Pixelbook exclusive) Google Assistant features. This will soon be changing according to a newly discovered code change.

Technology has worked itself into an interesting predicament, in that kids want to use the same tech that their parents are using, but oftentimes that tech can be a privacy invasion that parents aren’t comfortable with. This, of course, extends into voice AI technology like the Google Assistant.

Google is well aware of the challenges and has responded accordingly with the Family Link system, which allows parents or guardians to create, manage, and supervise Google accounts for their children. As of today, Family Link accounts can access the Google Assistant on Android and Google Home devices.

As the Google Assistant will soon expand to ‘all Chromebooks’, this means many children who already use Chromebooks at school will have a device ready for the Assistant. According to a new commit posted yesterday to Chromium’s Gerrit source code management, Google is already getting ready for that future.

The commit adds a new “Finch” flag, which can only be activated remotely by Google, that tells Chrome OS that Assistant is okay to use on Family Link accounts. The work-in-progress code change is paired with another that simply removes all the Assistant restrictions added for Family Link accounts back in August.

On a humorous side note, the flag was initially given the whimsical name “AssistantForKids“. This name seems to have been swiftly shot down and changed, possibly because it could imply a separate product designed for children.

Like every other aspect of Family Link, this new access to the Google Assistant on Chrome OS should be able to be limited by the parental account as desired.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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