I recently purchased a phone for my eldest, making the decision to stick with Android for the Google Family Link platform which allows me to lock down the device and monitor where it is (for safety and in case of loss).
I’ve used the Google Family Link platform for about 9 months now to manage my kids tablets and its worked pretty well but as their tablet seldom leave the house, the geo-tracking was something I was aware of but seldom had to use (when I did, it worked a treat however).
UPDATE (Oct 2021): The location functionality still works, however each time my children have lost their device or worse, I’ve had to find out where one them are, the location functionality is just too inaccurate. I don’t know if Google have deliberately placed limited on its accuracy but at the very same time it is struggling to get a fix, PreyProject has located them within 10 feet. In addition to this, if the device is lost, Prey can take photos, sound an alarm, etc.
Having now parted from hard-earned cash for a phone on the basis of the Google Family Link functionality, its level of functionality appears to have been downgraded from ‘working’ to ‘utter shite’. It’s 100% clear that the problem lies within the Google Family Link platform itself because:
My kids now have three android devices between them, none of my Android devices can see the location of any of them, with each stating they are “offline”
The problem occurs with any combination of my devices and the kids devices, whether connected via cellular or wifi.
GPS and location services are always enabled
When the kids go in to the catchily named ‘Google Family Link for Children & Teenagers‘ app, they see a preview of ‘what your parents can see’ and they can see their location beacon displayed so the Family Link platform is getting their location data.
When I go in to Google Maps on my kids devices, it clearly states that they are sharing their location with me on an ‘ongoing’ basis.
Fortunately, while a multibillion pound company can’t get basic tracking working, a smaller start-up can and there’s one I’ve used many times before called Prey Project (and it has a free license!).
I didn’t think I’d be returning to Prey any time soon as I’ve had no requirement but when I’ve used it in the past, its been great for tracking stuff in case of theft (including laptops).
I’ve added this to the same phone I’m trying to track using Google Family Link and it’s working perfectly, even as Google Family Link tells me the device is offline.
If you’re stuck like me, I’d recommend it until Google sort their service out: https://preyproject.com/features/