Excellent iOS app design. Accurate and well-implemented location tracking. App blocking and usage schedules. Free version available.
No support for Macs and PCs. Lacks call and SMS blocking. No social media monitoring. Web filtering only works on specific browsers.
- Bottom Line
Locategy's parental control app for Android and iOS keeps track of your kid's activities and location, but some design elements could use a refresh and the web filtering capabilities only work with a few browsers.
If your children spend a lot of time on phones and tablets, it can be difficult to make sure they stay safe. From inappropriate websites to sketchy contacts to excessive use, mobile devices pose all sorts of threats to your child's well being. Locategy (pronounced low-kay-ta-gee) hopes to give parents back some control with its parental control app for Android and IOS. Notably, it does not protect PCs or Macs. Its best features are location tracking (hence the name), simple app blocking, and ease-of-use. While it's not as full-featured as our Editors' Choice pick, Qustodio, it's still a good way to keep a handle on most of your child's activities.
Freemium vs. Premium
Locategy is a good value. It operates on a freemium model for up to three monitored phones. There are, however, some limitations with this free account, in that parents can only define two Places (for geofencing purposes) and can block only one app on a child's device. Further, reports only save five days' (including the current day) worth of location, web, app, and call logging data. This version could be sufficient if you just wanted to make sure your kid was traveling safely between home and school each day and keeping out of trouble online.
Locategy's premium pricing information isn't easy to find, and you need to upgrade via the app itself. The company is based in Spain, so the prices in terms of USD are approximate. Locategy's premium tier costs around $20 USD per year for three device licenses, $35 for 5 licenses, and $70 for 10 licenses. If you need to monitor more than 10 devices, you have to contact Locategy for a custom rate. Locategy offers a 15-day trial for users to experience the Premium account tier.
For comparison, Boomerang charges $12 per year per Android (iOS is free) and FamilyTime's cheapest mobile offering (two licenses) costs $35. Qustodio's base account for monitoring 5 devices costs $54.95, but it can be used with Macs and PCs in addition to smartphones and tablets. Kaspersky Safe Kids costs $14.99 per year for an unlimited number of licenses and supports all the major platforms, as well.
Locategy offers a single app on the Google Play store and App store. After a few introductory screens, and after you log in to (or create) an account, Locategy requires you to choose either a supervisor or child profile for further setup. If you select the child option you need to approve a host of permissions, including device administration, apps with usage access, and accessibility access. Just make sure to disable the Guest account on Android, since none of Locategy's restrictions apply here. This is typical of most parental control options. I set up Locategy Premium on a Google Pixel and the parent app on a Nexus 5X, both running Android 8.0. I also tested Locategy on an iPhone 8 running iOS 11. The bulk of this review details the Android app experience and the differences I found with the iPhone app are detailed in a separate section toward the end of this review.
Locategy's web interface is clean and minimalist, but the size of icons and options looks a bit off. There's also a lot of padding around most elements. That said, I do appreciate the bright blue color scheme and the highlighted sections that aid navigation. The main page (called My family) shows a list of all your currently monitored devices and their respective locations on a map. You can select any of these icons to access individual restrictions and reports. Alternatively, you can also use the right-hand menu to select any of the monitored devices. Other options in this menu include Places (Locategy's geofencing feature) and links to account settings and the FAQs. In testing, performance was mostly smooth with occasional stutters.
Although accounts are not protected by two-factor authentication, Locategy says all of the data it records is encrypted to and from its website, app, and data centers. Its data centers are located in Ireland and managed by Amazon Web Services. Additionally, the company says that none of its employees have access to anything more than basic profile information for each account.
Locategy implements a near-identical design on its mobile apps, albeit resized for the mobile screen size. Due to the smaller screen size, the top border looks more appropriately sized, but other elements, such as icons and options look cramped and messy. The app looks and feels suspiciously like a web wrapper, especially given its occasional performance hang-ups.
The (default) My family section shows all of your linked family accounts on an interactive map, much like it does on the web. The right-hand menu is exactly the same, as well, though I appreciate how the FAQ section is integrated right into the app itself. I like the integrated search bar and that the various topics expand in-line.
The child profile page is broken down into three different main categories as denoted by icons of a location pin, a phone in hand, and a shield. I refer to these sections as Location, Reports, and Restrictions, for the remainder of the review, since the icons are the only official descriptors. The last two sections are broken down further into a series of rectangular icon tabs on the bottom of the screen. You need to tap these sections individually to access them, since swiping horizontally switches between the three main sections instead. This navigation is a bit confusing, since there are three horizontal menus (the day selector in the location, web, and call history sections are also aligned horizontally), but only one is controlled by swiping across the screen.
Location and Places
Clicking on any of your monitored children takes you to the Location tab. This section shows an interactive map of the child's current location and a Show Location History button.
The Location History area shows a series of blue dots on a map, which correspond to a child's location every few minutes of that day. You can use a slider to scroll through the selected day and simple directional arrows above the map to change the date. It's smart enough to recognize when you stop moving and records the address of said position rather than just the coordinates. Oddly, you can't add one of these pins as a dedicated place; you have to reenter those manually via the Places section in the right-hand menu. If you tap on any of these dots, two small icons appear in the lower right corner. These shortcuts redirect you to the Google Maps app either for step-by-step directions or a location details page.
These dots can blend in with the map in some areas and can overlap each other, but the location tracking worked well enough that I could tell the difference between riding on the subway and walking to my office. Locategy also had no trouble logging the exact walking route I took to a restaurant I visited one night.
The other component to Locategy's location section is Places, the app's take on geofencing. From the Places link in the right-hand menu, you simply specify a name for the Place and enter an address. Locategy creates a 150-meter boundary around that point on the map and will notify you as soon as your child arrives at or leaves that area. You cannot set additional boundaries that overlap the original, so it's not ideal for large campuses or areas. Boomerang's more flexible approach lets you draw custom boundaries around an area, and Kaspersky Safe Kids lets you set up a schedule for when your child should remain in said geofence. Norton Familyand Qustodio do not offer geofencing capabilities at all.
Over the course of the week I tested Locategy, it successfully sent a notification each time I arrived at and left my office or apartment. This feature could be especially useful for parents who want to ensure that their kids get to and from school safely and on time each day. Then again, if a child just throws the device out a window and bolts, there's not much you can do.
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Locategy's report section is broken down into three subsections on the bottom: Apps, Phone, and Web. Starting with the apps section, Locategy logs all of the apps your child launches each day, in descending order of usage time. If you want more details, you can hit the expand arrow to the right of each app to see each time your child opened it and how long they spent during that session. As with the Location section, you can also switch between different days via a top menu.
The calls section shows similar information. It lets you view a log of all the incoming and outgoing calls for any given day, along with the time and duration of the call. However, there's no way to interact with this information or this data; it's simply a log of the activity. The Web History section functions in much the same way. It shows a list of the websites a child visited along with the time of access. This section does let you click on the links to visit the page yourself. It highlights log entries in red and shows a lock icon if any of these sites were on the blocked list.
Under the action tabs, Locategy shows five different subcategories for apps, locking the device, web filtering rules, remotely wiping a phone or tablet, and contacts. With the apps section, you can block an app permanently or set up a specific time range in which your child can use it. You can block apps completely or set up usage periods on specific days, and use the same schedule for multiple days. Boomerang offers similar app restriction functionality. The device lock is self-explanatory; enable it and your child cannot open any apps on their phone. However, for emergency purposes, the child can still make and receive calls and SMS messages.
The web filtering section is where you specify what types of sites your child can visit. By default, it blocks nine categories of websites, including Drugs, Gambling, Pornography, and Proxy and Filter avoidance. There are an additional 30 categories of websites such as Entertainment, Games, News and media, Religion, Social networking, and Translators that you can enable. At the top, you can specify particular domains you want to block if they don't fall under any of those categories or somehow slip through the cracks.
In testing, the web filtering worked very well; I could neither access blocked https sites nor use an anonymizing proxy to skirt around the filters. There is a significant catch, though, in that this filtering only works with Chrome and Samsung browsers. In other words, your child could use any other browser, such as Firefox Focus, to access any of the blocked sites. You need to block all of these other browsers to make sure these content filters remain effective. However, since there isn't an option to automatically disable any newly installed app, this process could become tedious.
The remote wipe feature is a unique feature for a parental control app. Security-wise it's a great option if your child ever loses a phone or if it gets stolen. This process requires the account password. The final Contacts section simply lists all the people in the phone's address book, but there is no way to interact with it.
Locategy showed a persistent notification on my phone in the notification area, which is a good reminder to kids that you are monitoring them. The child app is very simple. When kids open the app, it repeats to the child that their parents are monitoring the device. Below that there is a prominent SOS button which, when pressed, sends an alert to the parent along with location information.
The only other option at the bottom of the screen is to unlink the device. This requires the parental account password, of course. I wish Locategy did more with the child app, such as actually list the affected rules for the child, as Norton Family does, or integrate a secure family messenger, such as Boomerang includes.
Locategy for the iPhone
Locategy's design looks much nicer on the iPhone than on the web or Android. The iconography is cleaner and it uses whitespace more effectively. It also runs more smoothly and is better organized for a small screen. For example, it moves the Location, Reports, and Restriction to the bottom (but with larger icons) and puts a greater emphasis on the respective subcategories by inverting the colors and making them easier to select. Also, there are no confusing horizontal scrolling issues. Even the individual child icons on the My Family screen and the lock buttons in the app blocking section are more easily visible.
Setting up Locategy on the iPhone requires the same sort of permission as on Android. Additionally, you need to download and install a mobile device management (MDM) profile and enable the content blocker for Safari for all the features to work. Web filtering did not work in testing on any other browser, so you will need to block those outright to ensure browsing protection.
Although the parental app (save for the design changes) is identical to that of its Android counterpart, you cannot view any usage reports of monitored iOS devices. In fact, the entire Report tab is missing from the monitored iPhone's profile. The child app on iOS is identical to that of its Android counterpart and works in the same way. Don't fear if your child has a different phone than you; SOS work seamlessly across Android and iOS.
Location, Location, Location
Modern parents need a parental control app that works well on mobile if they intend to keep track of their kid's digital life. Some parental controls solutions offer a ton of capabilities, including call and SMS monitoring, social media supervision, and logs of watched videos, none of which Locategy currently offers. That said, Locategy's streamlined approach and strong location-tracking features work well. If you are primarily looking for an easy way to keep track of your child's location or control their device usage, Locategy is a good option. If you need more fine-tuned controls or support for Macs and PCs, consider Editors' Choice Qustodio for your mobile parental monitoring needs.
About the Author
Ben Moore is a Junior Analyst for PCMag?s software team. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Neowin.net, and Tom?s Guide on everything from hardware to business acquisitions across the tech industry. Ben holds a degree in New Media and Digital Design from Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Obse… See Full Bio
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