Google is getting ready to introduce "Supervised Accounts" in the Chrome browser which could be a blessing for parents wanting to control what their children see and hear on the Internet without bulky third-party software. This feature is currently in development, but Chrome users can get an early taste by enabling two specific flags in the latest developer build, 30.0.1599.14 dev-m (other reports claim the latest Canary build).
The company originally introduced multi-user accounts back in 2011. This allows several people to use the same Chrome browser on the same PC, but saves their individual settings and bookmarks. This new feature is an extension of that, adding "parental controls" into the mix, and reportedly popped up over the weekend. These supervised accounts are managed by a single master account, and are not standalone, separate accounts.
"This is a supervised user who will be managed by you. You need to be signed in to use this feature," reads the instructions when setting up an account. This is done by clicking on the Chrome Options button, selecting Settings, and then Add New User. The option to make the account a secondary supervised version appears in the following pop-up window.
Once created, users can go to www.chrome.com/manage (which currently returns a 404 error) to allow or block specific websites the supervised user can or cannot access. If the default settings aren't changed, then the supervised user will be able to view all sites.
"Creating a supervised user does not create a Google Account," the company explains, "and their settings and data will not follow them to other devices with Chrome Sync. Currently, a supervised user applies only to this installation of Chrome, on this device."
Given Supervised Accounts only just appeared in the developer build, the team is reportedly still working on the UI, backend and flow. However, interested Chrome users surfing with the latest developer build can switch on "Enable supervised users" and "Enable new profile management system" from the Chrome Flags page.
Currently, it's unknown when this feature will be dumped into the beta and stable release channels. Meanwhile, Microsoft has a similar setup for Windows 7 and Windows 8 customers with the free Family Safety software a part of Windows Essentials. It monitors all activity, whether it's an application of the user browsing with any available browser. Filters are managed on Microsoft's Family Safety website.
The benefit of using Chrome's version is that users aren't required to install extra software, but it doesn't monitor an entire Windows account either. However, this option should make the browser and Chromebooks much easier to manage in the business and educational sectors.