An update to Apple’s iOS operating system, out today, will give parents a new set of tools to fight back against kids’ iPhone addiction. With the release of iOS 13.3, parents will for the first time be able to set limits over who kids can talk to and text with during certain hours of the day. These limits will apply across phone calls, Messages and FaceTime. Parents also can apply a different set of limitations on calls and messaging during the child’s permitted screen time and their downtime hours.
In a new Communication Limits section of Apple’s Screen Time in Settings, iPhone users can set limits based on their contacts. During allowed screen time, users can be contacted by everyone or only by people in their contacts, to prevent unknown contacts from reaching them. And during downtime, they can opt to either be contacted by everyone or only by designated contacts.
And if this is set up under Screen Time’s Parental Controls, parents get to choose who can contact their children and when and vice versa. During downtime, parents can also designate which particular contacts the child can message and call — like only mom or dad, for example.
In practice, this means parents could stop the child from texting friends late at night or during the school day, by scheduling Downtime to run. (To clarify, Downtime doesn’t necessarily mean “night time” — it’s just any time you only want designated apps to be available, and only calls to get through.)
The feature also allows parents to manage the child’s iCloud contacts remotely, which makes it easier for parents to share important numbers with their child. But it also puts parents in full control of the contact list, so only they can edit it.
These new Communication Limits are part of Apple’s larger Screen Time system, which was introduced with iOS 12 last year. The system allows iPhone owners to schedule time away from their screen, set time limits on apps, view usage and activity reports and more.
Many parents have already leveraged these controls to more strictly limit how their children used their devices, including by setting limits on individual apps they wanted to block, like games, as well as by configuring “downtime” hours.
In addition, parents could set times when the child’s device could not be used at all.
Apple isn’t the only tech company that’s been rethinking how to address consumers’ often dysfunctional relationship with technology. Google also introduced its own set of “digital well-being” controls and tools for Android, and even Facebook and Instagram have rewritten parts their software and algorithms with a focus on new metrics like “time well spent,” for example.
While Apple’s Screen Time may have worked well for younger kids, teens quickly found and shared loopholes and workarounds, much to parents’ chagrin.
Time will tell if teens come up with a hack to get their iMessages sent under the new parental control system, too.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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