Wear OS debuts new feature for parents and kids – but Apple got there first

Kid reaching for a book wearing a smartwatch
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Wearables are on their way to becoming the next big tech trend for kids, and this includes the best smartwatches. In its latest update, Google is gearing up to add a new WearOS feature that will help parents manage their child’s smartwatch usage during school hours. 

The Google System release notes for May 2024 share that the new ‘School Time’ feature is designed for parental use, and will allow parents to put access limitations on the apps their child uses. Parents will also have the option to silence their child’s smartwatch, limiting distractions and allowing them to focus in the classroom.  

Google hasn't yet announced how School Time will work, but we imagine users will be able to change their children's School Time settings from their own Wear OS app. We also don’t yet know if the feature will be available across all WearOS devices, or if it can only be accessed on more recent WearOS devices like the Google Pixel Watch 2

Google Pixel Watch 2 models

(Image credit: Google)

While it’s a new addition to the WearOS user interface, parental settings for wearable tech are far from new. Apple introduced a similar feature – also called ‘Schooltime’ with its watchOS 7 update back in 2020. It allows parents to limit certain features on their child’s Apple Watch, including setting time blocks on certain apps and watch face complications, but still allowing them to access features like Activity Rings, and it’s likely that School Time feature in WearOS will work in a similar way.  

Analysis: are smartwatch makers increasingly targeting kids?  

Although Google is lagging behind with its parental features for smartwatches, it’s good to see the company taking younger smartwatch users into consideration – features like School Time makes it easier for high school-aged users to focus on things like studying. However, Google’s new update could also suggest that it’s pitching its wearable devices more at younger users. 

It’s understandable why high-school-aged kids would want to wear a smartwatch, especially if they’re already using Google Pixel phones and want to explore wearables that extend its functions and services. But younger children are increasingly starting to take an interest in smartwatches. 

Some brands already make watches designed for younger children – we think the Fitbit Ace 3 is a solid entry-level option for a kids smartwatch. So could Google’s launching its School Time feature be an indication that a new Google kids smartwatch is on the way?  

Fitbit Ace 3

(Image credit: Fitbit)

You might also like

Editorial Associate

Rowan is an Editorial Associate and Apprentice Writer for TechRadar. A recent addition to the news team, he is involved in generating stories for topics that spread across TechRadar's categories. His interests in audio tech and knowledge in entertainment culture help bring the latest updates in tech news to our readers.