Digi launches safety app for families
By Edwin Yapp July 28, 2016
- App has host of features to watch over and monitor kids’ mobiles
- Available in freemium and premium models, only Android and iOS supported
MALAYSIA’S Digi.Com Bhd has introduced a new mobile app that enables parents to safeguard their children’s access to the Web as well as provide some tools to monitor and keep track of them.
Speaking to the media at the July 27 launch at its headquarters in Shah Alam, Digi chief marketing officer Loh Keh Jiat said Digi’s ‘Family Safety’ app is the first step in the operator’s quest to take a holistic approach in safeguarding its customers’ digital life.
“Today’s announcement takes our cybersafety advocacy effort to a whole new level,” he said.
“We are promising a safer mobile experience to our customers by offering an end-to-end digital safety solution, together with relevant learning tools for parents and children,” he added.
The Family Safety app gives customers location and parental control via a mobile device. The app allows a customer to create a family account for up to seven family members and protect everyone within that group, Digi claimed.
Key features of the app include ‘Family Location’ to locate family members on a smartphone or the Web in real time; a geo-fencing feature that parents can use to create safety zones for family members; notifications that issues alerts when family members arrive or leave the designated areas; and check-ins to regularly inform others where they are.
Other features include ‘Panic Alert’ to send an emergency alert with location to all family phones; Parental Controls to restrict phone usage to family phone numbers and controls when certain apps can be used; and Phone Security, which allows you to find, ring, lock and wipe any family phone if lost or stolen.
Asked as to why it took Digi so long to come up with such a safety app given that there were such apps with similar features already available in the market, Loh said building an app is not difficult, but he added that building one that has a proper roadmap, as well as scalability and features to connect to other gadgets such as wearables is not as straightforward as one might think.
“It’s not rocket science to create an app [that protects children] but we don’t [just] want to create an app as we want to control the features and roadmap of the app,” he said.
“Essentially, we want this app to be embedded in our core offering [in Digi], where we can develop APIs (application programming interfaces) that can connect to more than just a smartphone,” he added.
Digi’s family safety project manager Philip Ling said that based on the company’s experience, users will not use a solution that they find difficult to use or if they do not understand the risk involved in the first place.
“We’ve done focus group studies on many family safety apps available and what we’ve noticed is that many of them may be too complicated to use,” he claimed.
“So what we’ve chosen to do is to start out with something basic and we’ll continue to build on it. As this happens, we hope to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of such apps,” he added.
The Digi Family Safety app is only available for the Android and iOS operating systems. Android users can download the app from the Google Play Store immediately, while iOS users have to wait until next month.
The app comes in two options: Freemium, which is free for all to use with basic location services for up to two family members, while premium for Digi customers is at RM5 (US$1.20) per month.
In addition to the basic features, customers who opt for a premium subscription will also get the parental control and security functions, and be able to invite up to seven family members and allocate up to 20 safety areas in the app.
For it to function properly, all family members must download the app. Parents can then set a master password. Thereafter, either parent can execute its features to control their children’s phones using the app.
Currently, the premium plan is free for the first 30 days for Digi customers. Users of other mobile networks can also download the free app for use but in order for them to use premium features, at least one member of the family must be a Digi subscriber in order for payment to be charged to that account.
Quizzed as to why such an app, which Digi would presumably want to encourage using, comes with a pricetag, Loh said that this app development is not one-off and that there will be additional features coming in the future, such as connecting the app to non-smartphones, including wearable devices.
“Also, for people to appreciate and value using the app, we feel that there should be a marginal charge, and based on our focus groups studies RM5 per month per premium user is affordable,” he said.
In conjunction with the launch of the Family Safety app, Digi and its cybersafety partner Protect & Save the Children (PS the Children) also launched an online safety workbook, #safeWeb4Kids.
The workbook is aimed at guiding schoolchildren on how to make safe and responsible decisions online, in a fun way. It is available in hardcopy and also downloadable from www.digi.com.my/digicybersafe.
“PS the Children is happy to collaborate with Digi again in our effort to fight cybercrimes,” said board member Natasya Saufi.
“We hope that the fun approach integrated in this workbook will catch children’s interest to do the exercises and at the same time, benefit from them.
“Producing learning tools such as this workbook is part of our continuous efforts to further nurture children’s digital resilience and to stay safe online,” she added.
For more information on the Digi Family Safety application, go here.
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