Earlier this week Google announced Rivet, an app focused on assisting kids to learn to read. We were excited to see it launch, and we still think that overall it’s a fantastic concept. If you want to know more about Rivet itself check out our earlier coverage.
Having played with the app earlier this week I decided to set some time aside this weekend to add Rivet to my daughter’s educational app arsenal on her tablet. I went through the process of authorising the app and installing it on the device. Once installed I started to sign in…. and then the wheels fell off.
What’s the issue?
To use Rivet the Parent signs in using their Google credentials, and this associates the app with the parents Google account. From there you provision any kids you have (and any settings you want) and they can start reading. As the parent, you can get updates via email on their usage and progress etc, to set up on a new device you simply sign in using your Google account. That’s all fantastic.
The problem comes with trying to set up your kid’s account.
My daughter’s tablet is managed using a Family Link account – this allows me to monitor her use and prevent access to some things. Surely this app – an educational app for kids – should be able to work nicely with Family Link. Well, no, it doesn’t.
It appears there’s no way for me to sign into Rivet using my Google account, using its authorisation process on an Android device running a kids Family Link profile, unless I happen to have a Google for Education account myself. Which I don’t.
So, I figure it’s a reading app, it’s not that bad if I just allow complete access for this app, so I try to sign into Rivet with my daughter’s Google Family Link account … you guessed it a child’s Family Link account is not allowed to be used to sign into Rivet. Agrahhhhhhh.
So, what was I left with? I had to run the app not signed in, which means you’re not getting the progress and usage tracking, it also means that when your child accidentally hits the persistent LOG IN button that’s always on screen it pulls them out of the story their reading with the resulting tech-inspired outrage you’d expect from a child.
Now, technically Rivet is from Area 120 one of Google’s incubators, it may have even been developed by a completely independent group, and it’s still an awesome idea, that’s why I was installing it. However, for those of us who already live in the hellish nightmare that is a G-Suite account and the issues that brings when interacting with some Google Services, it seems we can add Family Link accounts into the list of things that may cause weird behaviour.
We’ve reached out to Google to find out if there’s a way around the log in issues we’re experiencing or if there may even be an update to Rivet to make it play better with Family Link. If Google’s looking to make Family Link more complex, I’d love to be able to use it in a similar manner as a G-Suite account manager to get even more granular control over my daughter’s devices.
Failing that, it looks like this is a hot mess which, instead of making things easier for families, just makes it harder.