Android 7 and 8

It's finally here!

After some solid work by the team including many weeks of testing, we're very happy to announce that curbi now supports Android 7 Nougat and Android 8 Oreo!

Android 7 and 8 required us to re-think the way curbi gets the job done to protect Android phones and tablets but after extensive testing and real-world trials we are very happy with the results.

Android 7 and 8 added significant security improvements to protect you from malware and hackers and we had to make sure curbi worked hand-in-hand with these improvements.

curbi Kids is now live on the Google Play Store.

Introducing KoalaSafe!

curbi and KoalaSafe have teamed up to provide the ultimate in parental controls for all online devices.

curbi and KoalaSafe now work together by supporting the management of iOS and Android devices with curbi, alongside operation of a KoalaSafe Wi-Fi network in the home.

KoalaSafe takes care of network access when at home and curbi takes over when the devices leave the home.  curbi also provides the ability to disable apps on iOS and Android to prevent all-night Angry Birds sessions which network controls alone cannot do.

KoalaSafe also covers every networked device in your home.  Laptops, desktops, Smart TVs, Apple TVs, Xboxes, PlayStations and more - any device that uses a Wi-Fi connection.

Learn more...

curbi Internet Filter for iOS expiry

On Friday 2nd December the curbi certificate that makes the curbi Internet Filter for iOS work, expired.

The Problem

This is something that unfortunately happens from time to time with certificates.  The fix for this is to just re-activate curbi on your kid's devices.

If you don't use the curbi Internet Filter for iOS right now, this certificate expiry won't affect you.  Still, its a good idea to have everything up to date in case you decide to use the Internet Filter later on.

The Fix

Just reactivate curbi on your kid's iOS devices.  Click on the link below to see the detailed instructions on how to reactivate curbi.

Learn more...

curbi for Schools

Under the curbi 2.0 update we have changed the way curbi works in the school environment.

Under curbi 1.0 we had the curbi4schools app which allowed iOS devices already enrolled in an MDM system to be enrolled with curbi.

Over the 2 years that we ran curbi4schools we found it to be unreliable to the point where we have had to retire this approach.

We now require every device managed by curbi to be enrolled in the curbi MDM.  This means that iOS devices (iPads) already enrolled in a school MDM system can not longer be managed by curbi.

This was a difficult decision for us to make given the large number of devices on the curbi4schools program, but we were just not happy about the level of control and reliability that curbi4schools gave us.

We still support curbi in the schools environment and still register schools with curbi to ensure that curbi switches off its VPN when the device joins a school network.

We're also working on a new enterprise licencing plan for curbi to make curbi even more affordable and attractive to school communities.

curbi and iOS 10

We're pleased to announce that curbi is now verified against iOS 10.

With iOS 10 being released this week, we've been able to complete testing on the final version of iOS 10 released by Apple to developers.

We have been testing and updating curbi for iOS 10 since July this year when the first preview releases of iOS 10 were released to developers.

The one change that you will notice with iOS 10 is the removal of the curbi helper app.  We introduced this app earlier this year to prevent apps from having their order jumbled up when they returned from being hidden during a Timeout or Block All rule (such as Bedtime).

The curbi helper app trick no longer works, so we're not installing it under iOS 10.  This does mean that apps come back in a jumbled order now after being hidden, but all is not lost.  Apple has thankfully stopped deleting Folders when apps are hidden, so any Folder grouping of apps is now preserved.

You can find more details about App Hiding and iOS 10 here.

Introducing curbi 2.0!

curbi 2.0 has been released today!

So what's new?

First of all curbi is FREE.  That's right - FREE.

For up to two devices (iOS or Android), curbi is free forever.

curbi now has two pricing levels - Free and Premium.

To see a full breakdown of what you get with each pricing level, have a look at our Pricing page.

The next big thing we've done is create the curbi kids apps - one for Apple and one for Android.  curbi kids is installed on the device you wish to manage and makes the activation process a whole lot easier.

Finally, we now have an Android app.  curbi parent for Android is fully-featured and lets you manage your entire curbi account from your Android phone or tablet.

More control of Content Filtering

We just released an update to our curbi app that allows parents to further fine tune their curbi experience on iOS devices. One of the key features of curbi is its ability to filter internet based content. Occasionally, there might be a time when you want to disable curbi's content filtering, though. 

This might be to play a certain internet based game that doesn't like the curbi VPN service or maybe video streaming with local content won't load. Disabling the content filter will disable the VPN and allow all internet traffic to pass normally. Please keep in mind that your blocked content settings will not be enforced while the content filter is off.  curbi also won't record any Usage data while Content Filtering is off.

This feature is now live in the App Store, so be sure you are running the latest version of the curbi parent app or you can visit our web portal.

Introducing App Hiding for iOS

We just released an update to curbi that allows for an iOS feature that parents have been asking for for months. It's called App Hiding.  This includes apps that are built in (Safari, Camera, etc) and apps that been installed from the App Store.

How might you use this as a parent? One of curbi's key features is being able to control internet based traffic. This includes apps like Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let's say that your child has a game that isn't using the internet, though. Previously, curbi couldn't help you manage this app because there was no way for it to block everything.

App hiding will allow you to hide these apps during your Timeout and Block All rules.

Be sure to visit the App Store to make sure you have the most up to date curbi parent app. You can also login to our web portal. To enable this feature, go to the Device tab on the curbi parent app, tap Manage Settings, and enable App Hiding. This will trigger the curbi helper app to install on the enrolled device. You can learn more about this process on our support site

As an amazing parental control service for iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, and Android devices, we are doing all that we can to help you manage your child's devices. We're excited to roll this out to you.

A Teenager's Perspective

Having trouble concentrating while you are trying to study? Constantly checking your phone and social media? Well you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of teenagers suffer from this exact problem. We are so paranoid while we study that, even when we aren’t receiving messages or notifications, we are thinking about the messages we could be getting, or whether we have done something wrong to make our friends not message us. Just a quick check of Instagram can lead to hours of constant scrolling which inevitably, gets you nowhere. By the time you put your phone down all of the scrolling has made you tired and you’re left with no time to study.

Fed up with this constant distraction and in an attempt to put an end to it your thought process may have gone a little like this…

“Ok… time to study, I am going to put my phone on do not disturb so it doesn’t distract me.”

And when this fails…

“Alright, no phone in the room while I study, I’m going to turn it off and lock it in my closet.”

But eventually you crack and check your phone before you’ve done an adequate about of school work, worried about anything you may have missed out on?

Well, I may have a solution for you. At the beginning of year 11, I found myself with this exact problem. I wanted to do the best I could in school yet I constantly found myself laying on my bed checking my phone when I should have been studying. I felt as though I had done hours of study when in reality, I had wasted my time going back and forth to check my phone, never really getting into a good study mindset.

As much as I love Instagram and Snapchat, I told myself, “It’s time you let go for a few hours a day.” To solve my problem I looked up some ways to stop my phone being such a distraction and eventually, I came across Curbi. Curbi is a control mechanism which, among many other things, can put time boundaries on app usage. I read into the product a bit more and realised this is what I needed, Curbi would allow me to cut out distractions for certain time frames when I would be studying. I told my dad about my plan to set restrictions on my phone for three hours after school, and in this time I would get all my school work done, and  of course… he was ecstatic! So, from 4.30pm through to 7.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook weren’t accessible on my phone. This allowed me to stop stressing about what was happening on my phone when I was studying, as nothing was. By having this time restriction thoughts about social media disappeared as I knew it was simply unavailable, there was no more sneaking into my room guiltily to check Snapchat when I knew I should be studying, as there was no point!

By having these apps blocked on my phone for three hours a day, it stopped any distractions while I studied and allowed me to concentrate on my school work when I needed to, but still be able to check social media after.

 

Introducing curbi for Android

After months and month of testing and preparation, we are finally ready to take the wraps off something new! This new addition to the curbi family is something we've had requested since we originally launched curbi for iOS almost two years ago. 

Say hello to curbi for Android!

 

curbi for Android supports any Android devices running KitKat (4.4) or Lollipop (5.0 and 5.1). To find out which version you have, go to Settings > About device.

The great thing for existing curbi customers is that you can add your Android devices for no additional change. It's included with your curbi subscription.

curbi for Android has similar features to the iOS version, but with some great enhancements. curbi for Android supports device quotas. For example, you can allow your child to have 1 hour of active device time per day during the week and 2 hours on the weekends. When the quota is reached, the device will no longer allow apps to launch. 

Like the iOS version, curbi for Android blocks adult content and viruses/spyware by default. You can also set control for games, social media, tv/video, music, general time wasting sites, drugs/alcohol, guns, sex related sites, and more. You can see a list of installed applications while also disabling any app right from the curbi parent app on your device (or website). You will also be able to track app usage to see which apps are being used the majority of the time.

If you'd like to give it a try, just visit the enrollment page on the device you wish to manage.

If you have friends who will be interested in this, be sure to let them know that all new accounts get a 14 day Free Trial. 

curbi and iOS9

We're pleased to announce that curbi is now verified against the production release of iOS9!

You can now upgrade any iOS device to iOS9 without issues.

We held off announcing iOS9 support until we were able to confirm that the production release of iOS9 worked perfectly with curbi.

We have now upgraded a number of our test devices from iOS8 to iOS9 without a hitch.

Please go ahead and upgrade your devices to iOS9.

Video and Music categories split out

One of the most common requests we've had over the past few months has been to split out the Video and Music categories in curbi.

This relates to the Study Time rule which many parents are using.  There has been a growing need to be able to block distracting sites like Social Media and Video during study time while allowing streaming music sites such as Pandora, Spotify and now Apple Music.

After quite a bit of testing and field trials we've gone ahead and split out these categories.

The TV and Video category used to include Music, so now TV and Video includes, well, TV and Video.

Do you know what your kids are doing on their iPad and iPhone?

This article appeared in the [Brainerd Baptist School](http://www.brainerdbaptistschool.org) Foundations Magazine

My first cell phone had 60 minutes a month and was tied to the car because the battery was so bad. Times have changed have they not? We now have 3rd and 4th graders with phones that are more powerful than the computer I had in college (not a joke). We’ve been concerned about protecting our children from inappropriate things on the internet for a long time now. It was fairly easy during the desktop PC days. You could accomplish a lot just by keeping the PC in the living room. What do we do now? Up until recently, I had no answer. A few months ago, a company called curbi reached out to me through my podcast (outofschool.net) and wanted to show me a service they had created. Once I read more about it, I realized that we finally had a true parental controls service for mobile devices.

While it can do a lot of awesome things, curbi solves 95% of our concerns with 1 feature: all adult content is filtered from all apps regardless of WiFi network or cellular network. At the end of the day, that is our main concern. curbi goes a step further, though. It gives you a lot of insights on how they are using their devices. Each week, you will get an email with time spent on internet based services (or apps that connect to the internet). An example of this might be that your child spent 5 hours on Netflix, 3 hours on Youtube, and 1 hour on Netflix. You can also set up rules to block certain types of content (social media, streaming video, etc) during certain time blocks (study time from 5-7, lights out time, etc). There is also a “kill switch” to disable all internet activity on the device. This is handy for those times when you child says they want to read “a book” while in bed, but you know they want to be watching Minecraft videos on Youtube.

The service installs through a special setting on the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, and there is really no way to block a kid from uninstalling it. This is something Apple controls, but curbi actually likes this model. Their goal is to teach kids about setting boundaries vs. creating more rules. Don’t worry, if your child removes curbi, you’ll get an immediate email.

Many of your children probably opened new iPads or iPod Touches for Christmas, At $6.99/month per family (unlimited number of devices), you will want to add installing curbi to your New Years Resolutions.

Digital Citizenship

When I was in high school (back in the early 2000s), I was an active baseball player. There was a message board (which has since morphed into this website that I took part in to discuss local teams, players, etc. The discussion got heated at times. The posters were mostly anonymous, but I decided to use my real name. I was honest and called it like I saw it. The problem is that I was a 16 year old posting under my real name. Some of the things I said were controversial. Did I get into trouble? Not terribly bad, but I was only 1 wrong post away from it, though. I say all that to say that digital citizenship wasn't discussed much back in 2000. If we needed it back then, think about how much more we need it today.

If I could sum up a teenager's life in 2015 in one word, it would be connected. They are always connected. There is really countless ways they can talk with people. This includes social networks (the popular ones for kids change monthly), Skype, and iMessage. There is ample opportunity to send and see things that are not appropriate. How do we monitor it? Obviously, curbi is part of your solution. It will allow you to understand where your kids are spending their time online. Technology is only half the solution, though. The other is actually having honest conversations with your kids about digital citizenship. What are some of the things that you should be discussing?  

  • What are the ramifications of sending something I shouldn't at home and at school?  
  • Should I expect any form of privacy when using social networking sites?  (hint: no)
  • What topics are not appropriate to discuss with friends?  
  • Password security (don't give it out)  
  • Camera etiquette
  • Safe searching

This is just a short list, but it's important to start somewhere. The internet is here to stay, and it will be a large part of our children's lives. It's important that we help them understand that what they do online is no different than what they do offline.

 

Get rewarded with curbi

It's time to be rewarded for being a curbi customer!

For the past few months we've been putting the finished touches on curbi Rewards.  

Here's how it works...

Once you are a paying customer of curbi you have access to curbi Rewards.  This means that you can refer friends to curbi and for every friend who becomes a curbi customer, both you and your friend get a month of curbi for FREE!

To access curbi Rewards just go to the Share link on the curbi web app, or under the Account area on the curbi iOS app.  From there you can share your share your link out via email, Facebook, Twitter and more.  Anyone who follows that link and signs up to curbi will be linked to your account.  If they become a paying customer, you both get a month free. 

The best part is that there is no limit to how many free months you can earn.  If you have a lot of friends who take up curbi, then you won't be paying much for curbi at all.

We've had a huge amount of positive feedback from our curbi customers and we know that many of you are already telling friends about what curbi can bring to their household.  It's time for you to be rewarded  for helping to spread the word about curbi.

curbi on your Apple Watch!

We're excited to announce that curbi is now available on the Apple Watch!

curbi-watch1.png

From the day the Apple Watch App Store opens you will be able to get curbi for the Apple Watch.

So here's what we've done.  We thought about the functions of curbi that make sense to put on a watch.  We also looked at curbi to see which functions were used the most.

We decided that the best things to put on the watch were the Timeout and Disable Rules functions.  With a couple of taps you can select a device, then put it on Timeout or Disable Rules (and switch them back).

The device list on the Apple Watch also shows the status of each device - whether or not it is on Timeout, or has the Rules disabled.

This is just the beginning of what we can do with the Apple Watch.  Once we get our hands on a watch and start using curbi I'm sure some more ideas will flow.

If you decide to use curbi on the Apple Watch and have some ideas, we would love to hear from you.  Just drop us a line at support@curbi.com.

Parental Controls for iOS

Apple's Parental Controls for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch are quite detailed, but really quite simple.  This post covers the whole story to help you get up to speed on everything that is and isn't possible.

Getting Started

Open Settings in your child's device and go into General > Restrictions.

The first time you set up Restrictions on your child's device you will need to set a passcode.  Note that this is a different passcode to the actual device's passcode, so make sure you use something different otherwise your child will be hacking those Restrictions before you know it!

Features

There are two sets of controls in here which dictate what the device can do.  When a device is managed by curbi, a parent can update most of these settings remotely from their own iPhone, iPad or the web.  Not all settings can be remotely managed via curbi, so we've tagged the curbi-enabled settings in the list.

Feature Managed by curbi?
Safari Yes
Camera Yes
FaceTime Yes, through Camera blocking
Siri Yes
AirDrop No
CarPlay No
Feature Managed by curbi?
iTunes Store Yes
iBook Store Yes
Podcasts No
Installing Apps Yes
Deleting Apps No
In-App Purchases Yes

In addition to what you see on the Restrictions area, curbi has a couple of other tricks it can do:

  • Photo Stream: stop the device from posting photos to a Photo Stream
  • Screenshots: stop the device from taking screenshots.

Content

The next area of Restrictions is the content limitations.  curbi can't control much in this area, just the Explicit setting for Music and Podcasts.

The Content settings will vary by Country, so make sure your Country is set correctly in Ratings For.

Movies and TV Shows will have the ratings scheme for your country.  You should set this to the approriate level for your country, usually enabling G and PG levels only.

Siri - don't worry about this one as you can just turn off Siri completely at any time via curbi.

Websites - this has a Limit Adult Content setting available but don't trust it.  It is very hit and miss and won't catch everything.  The curbi content filter is updated weekly from a highly-regarded content categorisation service so you can trust this more than a phone setting.

Require Password - this is a big one.  Set this to Immediately now!  Leaving this at 15 minutes means that if you enter your password into your child's device to buy them that bag of jewels, they will have 15 minutes to buy whatever they want.  You should do this on your iPhone too.

Privacy

The Privacy area lets you manage which apps can access various aspects of the device.  Each area is pretty much the same - they show a list of apps and whether or not they have access to the service.

Privacy is under Restrictions because this is something that you can lock down.  For example, if you wanted to be sure your child's device couldn't be tracked by any app you can disable Location Services so that your child can't re-enable it without the Restrictions passcode.

Privacy also appears in the top level Settings menu.  If you don't lock down any Privacy settings under Restrictions, your child will have full access to change settings under Settings > Privacy.

At curbi, we don't recommend changing anything in the Privacy area unless you are concerned about a particular aspect.  Apple is very good about only giving apps limited access to Private information, even when permission is granted by the device user.

Location Services

This is where you can set general location management settings as well as the location tracking access for every location-enabled app.

Contacts

Like Location Services, this area lets your manage which apps can access the Contacts.

Calendars

Same again - lets you see which apps can access the Calendars to read and set appointments.

Reminders

Let's you see which apps can set Reminders.

Photos

This shows you which apps can access the device's Photos.  Be aware that no app can connect to the device's Photos and just upload them all.  This feature just allows an app to select a photo from the device through the user interface.

Share My Location

Shows which apps can access your location on an ongoing basis.

Bluetooth Sharing

Shows which apps are able to share data with a Bluetooth device.

Microphone

Shows which apps can access the Microphone.

Twitter

Shows which apps can access the Twitter account.

Facebook

Shows which apps can access the Facebook account.

Advertising

This allows you to lock down the Limit Ad Tracking setting found under Settings > Privacy > Advertising.

Allow Changes

Accounts

Prevents modification of Mail, Calendar and Contacts settings.

Cellular Data Use

Prevents modification of which apps are permitted cellular data access.  Cell data access for apps is kept under Settings > Cellular.

Background App Refresh

Shows which apps can continue working in the background.  Note that only Navigation and Music streaming apps can continue to run in the background for any period of time.  Third-party apps (i.e. non-Apple apps) can only run in the background for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Volume Limit

Prevents changing of the device maximum Volume Limit.

Game Center

Multiplayer Games - prevents Multiplayer games from being played on the device.
Adding Friends - prevents friends from being added to Game Center.

Moving On

That's a lot to take on board, but guess what?  That's only the start.  After all that you can't even put the most basic of usage limitations on an iOS device.

Macs and PCs have had time limits on them for many years now, but these have never shown up in iOS.  Why do you think this is?  The main reason is that mobile devices are not desktop devices.  When you set a limit on a desktop device it's a signal to the child to go and do something else.  On a mobile device it makes less sense.  Imagine a phone lock that cut in at 9pm but your 12 year old child was out later with friends and couldn't call you.  It would not be good PR for Apple.

With this kind of thing in mind, we created curbi to do 'just enough' blocking without going crazy about it.

curbi implements time-based rules to complement the Restrictions that you can already set.  curbi does have the advantage of letting you modify important Restrictions from your own phone, but its the rules and content filtering that make curbi great. 

Wrapping Up

If you made it this far you now know more about Parental Controls for iOS than 99% of the iPhone-owning population.

The point of this post was to give an overview of how Parental Controls work on iOS 8 and how curbi makes use of and extends them.

curbi provides you with remote management of the important iOS Restrictions while adding time-based Rules and 'Always On' content filtering to the device.  In many ways, curbi gives you the same level of control that has been possible for quite a while on desktop and laptop Macs.

With children today spending well over 50% of their online time on mobile devices, and for many, all their time, curbi is the solution that has been lacking in the mobile space for a long time.

 

Make the iPad a dedicated book reader

"I'm going to go upstairs and read a book on my Kindle app".

This is the exact line I would have used if I was a kid today. I'd argue that I needed to take my iPad to bed at night because I wanted to read. There would be no reading. I'd be goofing off on Snapchat or Instagram. I'd be playing Clash of Clans instead of sleeping.

With curbi, this is a solvable problem. Does your kid want to read before bed. That's great! Tell them to make sure they have the book they want downloaded, and then open the curbi app on your phone to enforce a "time out". A time out on curbi simply blocks all communication to the device. There will be no Instagram or Snapchat. They are shut down. The only apps that will work is ones that don't require the internet.

  • Pandora? Blocked.
  • Facebook? Shut down.
  • Netflix? Don't even think about it

By using curbi, your child can get as much reading time as they want without being tempted to "just hop on Instagram for just a minute".

 

Why Schools Should Care about curbi

Technology deployments in schools can be complex. There are a lot of things that go into a successful one. This includes vision, leadership, proper networking, etc. Parent support is a key one, though. Parents have to buy into your program. They will likely have a considerable expense in the deployment through fees or direct purchase. One of the things I've seen that has brought down programs is children using the technology inappropriately at home. This was at the heart of the failure of the Los Angeles Unified School District iPad program failure. The schools had one vision of how the kids were to use the iPads at home, and the kids had another vision.

While schools can deploy all sorts of firewalls and filters on campus, they certainly are not going to be in the business of managing and securing home Wi-Fi connections. This is where curbi comes into play.

curbi is a turn key solution for parents with no network modification for schools.

Parent's get the peace of mind while the kids are at home or at friend's houses. IT administrators get control of the devices while they are on campus, but can trust that they are being filtered when off campus. If your school isn't promoting curbi, why not? curbi is the missing key to parent satisfaction in your technology program.

Get signed up today to have curbi work perfectly with your school network. All we need is your IP address and Wi-Fi name. This will disable curbi while devices are on campus, but it will re-activate it when they leave the campus Wi-Fi.