Microsoft Launcher beta updated with first family safety feature

Since its launch last year, Microsoft has been quick to roll out new features to Microsoft Launcher for Android. With the latest update headed out to beta users, the company has now turned its attention to parents, adding its first family safety feature.

If you're a beta tester, you can now download Microsoft Launcher version 4.10, which includes a way to keep track of your kids' locations and app activity if they are running the launcher on their phones. The feature requires you to add family members to your Microsoft account to work. But once set up, it acts as a handy way to keep tabs on the kiddos from the main launcher feed, accessible with a right swipe from your home screen.

Here's a look at the official release notes:

Microsoft Family on Launcher: Parents with Launcher can now view last known location and app activity for their children's Android phones running Launcher! (Requires Android 4.4+ for parent devices and 5.0+ for child devices)

Microsoft also labels this as "phase 1." The company is planning to roll out more family features soon.

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Beta testers aren't the only ones picking up a new set of features either. A new update is also rolling out to the release version of Microsoft Launcher with new gestures, the option to alphabetically sort apps in folders, and more. Here's a look at what's new with version 4.9:

  • Improved Home screen import logic
  • Sort your apps alphabetically in folders
  • Display names of apps or folders in your dock
  • Customizable gesture for pressing the Home button from the Home screen
  • New gesture option that lets you quickly lock your Home screen

If you're enrolled as a beta tester, you can pick up Microsoft Launcher version 4.10 via Google Play now to test the family safety feature. If you'd like to enroll, you can sign up to become a beta tester (opens in new tab) as well. Otherwise, version 4.9 is available for everyone now.

See at Google Play (opens in new tab)

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • I got it that they don't want to focus on WP. But work for PC at least.
  • They're always working on PC, what are you talking about
  • Some can't get it out of their heads that MS is just Windows, which obviously they're not. They can't handle that Windows is just one part of the company, and they're not going to limit themselves to that one part.
  • That's not it at all, actually. The part we don't get is that Microsoft repeatedly pisses on its own customers, leaving them in the lurch after spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on products that don't stand the test of time because Suckya Nutella is too short sighted to see the value of Microsoft having its own mobile platform.
  • Ah.. That's a new selling point.
  • I have used this Launcher since the days of ARROW and really like it, but WTH are they doing. They should be spending time and money bringing together the disparate Cortana experiences, and may spend time integrating WUnderlist and TODO and making sure they work with Launcher.
  • Them releasing this and them working on cortana aren't mutually exclusive you know
  • They should also add live tiles as an option and integrate their first party apps with the launcher in order to take advantage of them, restoring at least some of WP's more useful and unique features.
  • I want to like this launcher... but too many bugs. The disappearing widgets completely turn me off, and I try it after every update. My blackberry hub widget just constantly disappears. I don't have this issue with any other launcher
  • Do you mean from your folders? I used to have that problem, but haven't seen it in awhile.
  • Yea the folder/icon screen... not the main home screen with the weather, etc
  • I have not had that issue in a long while. Used to have notification badge issues but that was also resolved a while ago.
  • Hmm I've never had that problem... I have all my folders in my dock if that makes a difference? Also, never had widgets disappear either... sorry that's happening to you though
  • Weird. I have never had an issue with widgets disappearing. That said, I don't use the blackberry hub, so who knows?
  • Use it every day on my Nokia 8, love it. :-)