For a number of years Circle Home Plus has been Knights’ Quest Ministries’ #1 recommendation for parents due to it’s features, simplicity, and price. Not only were phones and tablets filterable, but EVERYTHING in the home that used the Web was filtered at the network level. And the price was not bad at all! As with all things, there have been some major changes so I have published this important update for Circle Home Plus!
Circle Has Been Sold
Internet security firm, AURA, acquired CIRCLE, the company. Aura has it’s own parental control app. So, I thought I should post an important status update for Circle Home Plus users!
This purchase of CIRCLE has brought about some changes:
The Circle Home Plus production has stopped.
The Circle app remains available. It is still recommended for phones & tablets.
Aura may offer a hardware solution in the future but the details are not available. The Aura App can be used along side the Circle Home Plus hardware with no problem.
So, where does that leave parents who are using Circle Home Plus, or who wish to use Circle Home Plus?
Your Circle hardware and software will continue to function. I do not know if that will change in the future.
Circle Home Plus is still available for purchase from eBay. There are both new and used units available as of 7/14/2023. If you get a used/refurbished unit make sure you reset it to factory conditions. Used units, obviously, will not have the 3-months or 1-year of the Premium Services included.
BARK HOME is a relatively inexpensive alternative to CIRCLE HOME PLUS. The main thing is that the Bark unit does not have internal batteries nor does it have WIFI. These are useful to counter children just unplugging the power or network cords to disable the parental controls. This product is also in testing.
There are a number of routers that have Parental Controls included. Knights’ Quest is testing the Gryphon Tower router, their mid-range device, and will publish reviews in the very near future. If you need such a device now, our recommendation is to use one of the GRYPHON GUARDIAN routers. These come with an app as well as the hardware parental controls system built into the router, itself.
I am also investigating the offerings by Aura, and monitoring for new developments.
In the meantime, I have scheduled Back-Too-School presentations of THE TECH-SAFE HOMEⓇ Webinar. You can find the schedule and register on the WEBINARS page of my web site: www.knightsquest.org.
It’s that time of year, again when Apple conducts public testing for it’s new operating systems.
Apple typically begins a Public Beta Test of it’s new operating systems for it’s products in the Summer to support the Fall release of the new software! A beta test is the final step before releasing new software and consists of tests by folks who are not part of the development team.
Currently Apple is testing:
iOS 14 for iPhones and iPods
iPadOS 14 for iPads
macOS Big Sur (aka OS 11)
These public betas are very popular among those comfortable with experimenting with their devices. They get to try out “the latest and greatest” before it is released and even get to provide suggestions or report issues with the beta.
But, if you have been working on a TECH-SAFE HOME the question arises:
“Should you beta test Apple’s new operating systems?”
In a word: “NO!”
Beta test software is “incomplete” and often does not work with other programs until a program’s publisher updates their apps. There may be many iterations, or versions, of a package in beta test. Therefore many publishers will not release an update until the “Gold”, or final, version is released. Until that time there are always bugs and glitches and compatibility issues that arise. Specialized software, such as parental control and monitoring apps, is especially susceptible.
The Beta Test Hazard
In some cases, everything might work just fine. But, the changes in the new operating systems could result in parental controls not working as planned. This might happen even (though unlikely) the built-in Apple Screen Time controls.
You can call the publisher of a parental control (or just about any other) app to find out if they support it. If you do, you will get the party line: They do not support their product on unreleased operating systems still undergoing development and testing. I’ve asked!
You might consider participating in a beta test. Doing so might make your children’s devices become “unsafe”. I recommend that you wait until Apple launches the final commercial release of these operating systems.
Another reason is this: Your child is most likely homeschooling right now, to some degree, due to the Pandemic. Software that schools may require your child to use may not be compatible with the beta versions of the operating systems.
When you do upgrade to the new OS you need to check your parental control apps to make sure settings having changed. You can make sure your apps are automatically updated by following these instructionson Apple’s web site.
CIRCLE HOME PLUS is a combined hardware/software approach to parental controls that builds upon the previous CIRCLE WITH DISNEY product that came out in 2015. This new system improves functionality and addresses compatibility issues that the earlier product had with some routers and gateways.
The CIRCLE HOME PLUS system provides the following parental control features:
Assignment of individual profiles
Assignment of specific devices to specific profiles
Controlling what apps your child uses is an important part of modern parenting. For those families where both parents and kids are using Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, & iPod) Apple has provided a feature called “Ask to Buy”!
Let us take a look at this very useful feature!
An Apple ID is required for each person you wish to add to “Apple Family” and they must be signed into iCloud and iTunes
Have an iOS device with iOS 8 or later, or a Mac computer running YOSEMITE or later.
Android or Windows Phone users cannot be part or an Apple family