Apple’s New 'Family Setup' Could Change How Parents and Kids Communicate

Since its debut, the Apple Watch required an accompanying iPhone to configure it. But with the company's latest software update, parents will be able to purchase an Apple Watch for their child without no need for them to have a smartphone as well.

Apple debuted "Family Setup" this week, allowing parents to set up a child's Apple Watch using their own iPhone. By using the Apple Watch, children will be able to make phone or FaceTime audio calls and have access to apps such as Messages, Maps, Mail and the voice assistant, Siri.

"For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, be more active, and stay safe," Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said on the company's website.

"With Family Setup, we’re thrilled to extend these features to the entire family, so everyone can gain more independence and live a healthier life," he added.

Parents will also have the added benefit of tracking their child's location using the Find People app on Apple Watch and securely send them money through Apple Pay.

Family Setup also adds a new feature called "Schooltime," which will set the device into Do Not Disturb mode when the child needs to concentrate on their studies or online learning.

"During Schooltime, a distinctive yellow circle is displayed on the watch face for teachers and parents to easily recognize, signifying that access to apps is restricted and Do Not Disturb is turned on," Apple says on its website.

"For convenience, parents can also set the schedule on their iPhone so Apple Watch automatically goes into Schooltime during certain hours, or turn it on from Control Center on the child’s watch," they continued.

"Downtime," a feature that has been available on other Apple devices, is also on Family Setup. The option gives children a five-minute reminder before they should step away from their device for a designated amount of time, such as during dinnertime.

But Family Setup isn't only valuable for children — it can also be used for older adults who may find comfort in having features like fall detection and emergency SOS available.

Family Setup requires an Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 7 with an internet connection through a cellular service.

According to CNBC, wireless carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon offer LTE availability for Apple Watch for $9.99 a month. Once connected Apple Watch owners will be provided their own phone number and Apple account.

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