febrero 29, 2024

El tiempo de pantalla está roto


Last month I wrote about two features that I consider missing from Apple’s Screen Time parental controls. In retrospect, what I should have written is how Screen Time is broken. I thought the next software update would fix things.

The first issue is Screen Time settings just resetting sporadically. Last year Apple acknowledged the issue in a statement to the Wall Street Journal:

“We are aware that some users may be experiencing an issue where Screen Time settings are unexpectedly reset,” an Apple spokeswoman said. “We take these reports very seriously and we have been, and will continue, making updates to improve the situation.”

Then last night, Matthew Panzarino (formerly of TechCrunch, now paving new ground at Tiptop.com and The Obsessor) posting on Threads:

Screen time restrictions and parental controls on iOS remain completely broken. It turns off at random and you only realize hours or days after that they haven’t been active. I have a pretty granular setup of times, allowed apps and account permissions for each of my kids and they get completely blown away at random several times per week. It’s incredibly frustrating. If you work on this feature please fix it! It’s a great tool and vital in modern parenting!

My response on Threads:

I’m convinced whoever was in charge of Screen Time QA at the start has since sent their children to college.

Putting Screen Time requests in Messages broke watch approval. The Mac app just eats RAM if you try to approve a request or, say, chat with your kid after a request […]

And that’s really the problem in a nutshell for me. Screen Time notifications used to be system notifications. Now they’re inline with your iMessage conversation with each kid. Clever place for it, but it’s been half baked for over a year.

Screen Time requests still hit the Apple Watch with actionable notifications, but they silently fail. No error message. Just your kid asking if you approved their request after a few minutes of seemingly approving the request. I don’t think these work at all in the Messages app on the watch.

Meanwhile, you’ll probably want that 192GB RAM option on the Mac Studio. It’s sometimes possible to approve a Screen Time request on the Mac. Usually Messages just devours your RAM until you force quit the app. Want to send your kid a message after a recent Screen Time request? Memory issue returns, even if the request has been approved.

That leaves the iPhone as the most reliable place for accepting or denying requests for new app downloads and additional time. For the past few weeks, app download approvals from the iPhone have just stopped working. The workaround for me? Use the Mac.

There are more broken aspects that I can list here. 9to5Mac reader Benjamin G. earlier this month, confirming that I’m not hallucinating:

[…] Screen Time controls have been essentially broken for a large number of users for more than a year (ever since Apple moved the request/approval function to Messages instead of push notifications).

There are three widespread problems — watch approvals no longer work (you click approve on the watch notification and nothing happens), and requests cause Messages on MacOS to hang/crash (it appears to be an issue with the “asktomessagesextension”), requests don’t reliably appear in Screen Time settings on MacOS.

In short, requests/approval work from phone/iPad, but nowhere else. It’s been about 18 months. It’s disappointing that Apple invests so little in their most loyal customers — those who buy Apple devices for their kids! Our 4-person house has the following active devices: 3 phones, 3 iPads, 1 iPod Touch, two MacBook Airs, three watches. And I’ve been trying for more than a year to get Apple to address this bug.

At least us parents are all in this together. The support group meets at 6 on Thursdays.

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