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Family Link 1.38 preps parental controls for Google Stadia [APK Insight]

When Google first took the wraps off of Stadia during GDC, they promised that the service would have “best-in-class parental controls.” At the time, though, no further details were offered on how this would work. The latest update to Google’s Family Link app, which lets parents manage their children’s Google Accounts, gives us our first clues to how Stadia’s parental controls will work, and other potential Stadia insights.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Stadia notifications in Family Link

In the Family Link 1.38 update, we find some strings referring to Stadia (and it’s internal “Yeti” codename) that point toward parents receiving notifications about their children’s use of the service.

<string name=”yeti_notification_channel_name”>Stadia</string>

<string name=”yeti_notification_channel_description”>Get notified about Stadia events for your child.</string>

We’re not sure yet what counts as a “Stadia event,” as this could be as broad as notifications about when a child begins to play a game. Or it could be something more specific like a request for permission to play a new game.

Game approval process

Deeper in the Family Link app’s code, we found a handful of references to the “Yeti” codename, which clue us in to how parents will be able to manage what games their children play. From these, it appears that children will be able to request access to certain games, and these requests will be submitted to their parent/guardian for approval.




Interestingly, we also found some references to the Play Store’s “Family Library” system with regard to Stadia.



Without knowing how Stadia handles game ownership, it’s too early to say what this may mean for families wanting to share Stadia purchases. Even that assumes that Stadia will have an ownership model, as opposed to a Netflix-like model where membership opens access to all available games.

Other Stadia references

There’s a pair of Stadia-related strings we don’t quite have enough context yet to decipher. A setting was added asking about how you may want to manage your child’s Stadia usage, but we don’t know what the options for this setting will be yet.

<string name=”more_settings_yeti_description”>{GENDER, select, other {Choose how you’d like to manage {PERSON}’s Stadia experience.}}</string>

<string name=”common_yeti_title”>Stadia</string>

How to update Family Link?

Family Link 1.38 is rolling out now via the Play Store. We do not post APKs to download directly given the legal challenges associated with copyright and possibility of removal. Meanwhile, that model is perilous given Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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