Apple finally launches Screen Time API for app developers with iOS 15

With the launch of iOS 15, Apple is finally giving third-party developers access to its Screen Time API. Screen Time means better data access for parental control apps. It also allows a certain level of parental control with app limitations and usage tracking.

The feature was initially introduced in 2018, allowing users to monitor the time spent on their devices. Since its launch, the feature has not been met with any major updates but Apple says that developers will be able to use the feature to support more tools and controls for parents.

iOS 15 - Screen Time API

Apple allows developers access to its Screen Time API

Since the feature’s launch in 2018, it has been built directly into the iPhone but no APIs or SDKs have been made available to developers before WWDC 21.

Developers can use the Screen Time API in parental controls apps to support an even wider range of tools for parents. The API provides developers with key features like core restrictions and device activity monitoring, all in a way that puts privacy first.


iOS 15 Screen Time API

Screen time API iOS 15

Developers can take advantage of the API, by locking it in place to only be removed from the device with a parent’s approval. The apps can authenticate the parents and ensure the device they are managing belongs to a child in the family. Additionally, Apple said that the system lets parents choose the apps and websites they only want to limit without compromising user privacy.

Back when Apple was about to launch Screen Time, it started banning many parental control apps that used Mobile Device Management to let parents control iOS devices belonging to their children. The change led to antitrust issues for the tech giant following complaints from developers that made parental control apps.

In 2018, developers petitioned the tech giant to release a Screen Time API that would let them access the same functionalities that are available with the built-in Screen Time feature to make the field even. It seems that now Apple has finally decided to implement the feature to ease some of the antitrust issues that it is facing from various lawsuits in various countries.

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About the Author

Usman has been playing games for as long as he can remember. He is an editor at iThinkDifferent and writes about games, Apple news, hardware, productivity guides, and more. When not writing for iTD, Usman loves to play competitive Team Fortress 2, spends time honing his football skills, and watches superhero movies.

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