Discontinued - Circle (1st Gen) - In-Home Parental Controls for Wi-Fi Connected Devices
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- Software requirements: iOS and Android
- Manage Wi-Fi connected devices (in home only)
- Set time limits
- Filter content
- Pause the internet
- View online usage
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Circle allows your family to manage all of your home's Wi-Fi connected devices. With Circle, parents can now filter online content And limit online screen time as well as set an internet bedtime for every connected device in the home. Circle can even pause the internet and share what kids are up to online. How it works: Circle pairs wirelessly or via Ethernet to your home router and allows you to manage online access for every device on the network: smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, smart TVs, online gaming consoles, laptops and desktops. Using an iOS or Android app, families create unique profiles for every member of the Home and from there, help shape Each person's online experience. Do not disconnect from the Circle home hotspot until Prompted in the Circle app. If your system warns you that this network has no Internet access, make sure it stays connected.
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We’ve had circle for over a year. It’s exactly what I’ve wanted and I’ve recommended it to friends. However, policies have changed at circle. All I get for my investment in thIs little cube is web filtering. For a premium subscription, with monthly payment, I can get back all of the features that used to be included for free.
As I look at this amazon description, it does not state this. Time limits, seeing what sites people have visited, rewards of extra time for doing chores...all were free.
I’m unplugging mine, it’s useless now.
Has a app
Price is reasonable
Disney brand made us more comfortable
Slowed our internet
We couldn't customize this the way we wanted to
Time limits never worked right (example: didn't log Xbox time correctly)
Blocked certain websites (like Pinterest) but allowed others that should have been blocked
Still allowed questionable content through when I tried
All of the cons added up and we decided to send it back but honestly we could have tried to work out all the problems if it hadn't been for the fact that it slowed our internet down so much. It really affected it and made it hard to do much. Hopefully others will have better luck with it, for the price it was a good product just not for us.
I try to be very helpful and thorough in my reviews, if it was helpful to you please click yes, thanks!
It took me several tweaks before I had my Circle set up correctly, but now, two months into using it, I have come to really love it.
For reference, we live in a large house with one router and two extenders (which only means that there are multiple "networks.") I have four kids, and their ages range from 7 to 14. They have iPhones, iPods, iPads, 2 Xbox consoles, Playstation3 and Playstation4. I have tried several different flavors of net-nannies and I have set up parental controls on several different routers over the years, but nothing has ever been worth the hassle of it all until this Circle. This gives me more flexibility and customization than anything I've ever used, and it is also visual (on my iPhone) so I don't need to be a computer programmer to make sense of it. REALLY, this thing is EASY. And if you need help to get it set up properly, just ask on their Facebook page because they are incredibly committed to helping people. I've never seen this degree of helpful Facebook customer service before, on any kind of product.
The beautiful part of Circle is that every device that is connected to the internet automatically appears in the DEVICES for your circle. Some of them are easy to identify (e.g. "Jimmy's iPad") but some are more difficult (e.g. "HUMAX Device" or T0108000357180). I started with the things I could positively identify, and then the rest became obvious over time. Anytime a device joins the network, Circle will give you a notification. So, if you unplug and replug your Amazon Fire Stick, or put your iPhone into airplane mode and then switch it back, you'll be able to identify and label the device in your Circle.
Once I figured out what each of my devices was, I assigned each one to a person. If the device was used by all of us (like the TV in the living room) I assigned it to E (for everyone). One son has an iPhone, iPad, Xbox, and another child has iTouch, iPad, and Mac. Another one has a Mac, an iPad, and an Xbox. The fourth one only has an iPad and a Fire device. Now, with devices set for each child, I can pause one kid's internet (on each of his devices) without messing up all of the other kids' internet. Also, if my son is allowed to use his computer (for homework) but not his Xbox, I can pause ONLY the Xbox, and leave everything else connected. (Also, if I have said, "No Xbox for you! One Week!" but then forgotten to actually put a pause on the Xbox. I can pull it up on my phone and see if he has turned it on.) Likewise, if I have gone to work and forgotten to turn someone's internet back on, I can easily correct that and get him back in business. The best part is that I can do all of it with an app on my phone. I can do it from the front yard, the bank, the airport, or from another state. Instantly. For me, this is where Circle REALLY earns its stars.
Simply stated, Circle will allow me to pause the internet for the entire house (say for dinner). OR, it will allow me to pause the internet for one child (who's grounded) or for all the kids individually (until each one gets homework finished -- and then individually I can give wifi back to them as they earn it.)
For content, there are filters. Using the settings for Filter Level, I have set up my youngest as kid, and my three older ones as teen. I am able to completely disable Youtube for my 7 year old, who was pretty addicted to Disney Collector and Family Fun Pack before Circle came along. On the Teen filter, I have the option to shut down many apps individually (e.g. Instagram, HBO, Twitter, Tumbler, Snapchat, YouTube). I can give some or all or none to each kid, INDIVIDUALLY. Separately, there is a custom option on each filter which will allow me to add in any specific website they are visiting that I don't want them to. If I click on INSIGHTS (and this is on each child's profile) I can see every website he has visited today and how much time he spent there.
Time Limits have proven to be my ACE IN THE HOLE for discipline. My young teenager is now on a plan where if he doesn't cause any disruptions in the house he gets to maintain his internet time, and if he gets in trouble for something he loses an hour. WOW -- what a changed kid! It is effortless for me to change his limit (I just pull up the app on my phone) so he knows that I won't get busy and forget. For once, I have a parenting tool that is SUPER EASY for me to wield. If he does something sweet, I can bounce him up an hour. It doesn't cost me anything and it actually has a value for him.
BEDTIME does just what it says. It shuts down their internet at bedtime without me having to realize the time and run around the house snatching electronics at 7:30, 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00. It allows me to let the big kids have their internet later on weekends, but still have a limit so they don't watch Netflix until 2:00 am. Week night bedtime limits can be set at a different time than weekend bedtime limits. If one child always has Thursday Night projects for school that take him past the regular bedtime, I can remove Thursdays from the bedtime limit or turn bedtime off (when he asks me about it) and then back on when he is finished, easily from my phone.
My favorite part of Circle is that (now that I have it set up properly) I can easily control each device, or each child's devices from my phone with one or two clicks. I feel like it has given the power back to me. I know that there are sophisticated router setups that are also supposed to do this, but I haven't had luck with any of them. I have read reviews from people saying that they couldn't set it up, or that it crashed the entire system, and I just don't have any idea where they are going wrong, but trust me, they are doing something wrong.
As an aside, the day after I set up my Circle, we had a problem with the internet and of course I blamed the Circle and unplugged it. Let me tell you that it STAYED ON. It has a battery inside, so if your kids ever get the bright idea to disable the circle and run amok on the internet, their attempts will be foiled! As it turns out, the problem with the internet was that I hadn't paid the bill (oops!) and it had nothing to do with the Circle. However, I forgot to go back and plug it in (after everything was resolved). It worked for a month before it started sending me messages on my phone that I needed to plug it back in.
Also, with regard to the extenders. I thought that the Circle wouldn't work if the kids just moved from the regular router to the extenders and I believed it to be a serious flaw. However, I have since learned that if I pause the device, it doesn't matter which network the kids plug into (because the extenders feed from the actual router). The device will pause regardless of the network name.
One other thing is data on the iPhone. There is a plan to control your child's data use, but I have not taken advantage of it. I realized that the MYATT app has a place where I can easily disable data, so for my one rebellious child, I just shut down his data when he's at home, and then he is forced to use the wifi, and my limits placed in Circle will keep him in check. If I want him to have data (vacation, etc.) I just turn it back on in the ATT app. If you child's device has access to data, you will only have so much control over it with Circle.
Also, it is true that the iPad will allow you to block some apps and some sites. Circle isn't the ONLY way that you can get the job done. But for me, it has absolutely been the easiest.
Top international reviews
Steps were straight forward as follows :-
1. Connect to the Circle WiFi network that appears when you turn on the Circle.
2. Connect to the Circle's management console & set it to join it your existing WiFi (assuming you have a compatible router - check the list). The Circle WiFi network will then disappear
3. Connect to your original WiFi & open the Circle application on your phone
4. Create a profile for each family member, selecting their age category (eg. teen), total allowed usage time, bedtime, etc.
5. Within the app, assign the detected devices (they are assigned to the Home profile initially, which has no restrictions applied) to the relevant family member's profile. You can change the detected name to a friendlier one if you wish (eg. rename android_2345612_785 to Toms Phone). Multiple devices can be assigned to a single profile (eg. Toms Phone, Toms iPad, Toms Laptop)
6. Sit back & wait for the kids to complain.
You receive alerts on your phone / pad, wherever you have the Circle app installed, as & when the Circle box disappears of the network / kids exceed time limits / new devices join your WiFi / etc.
It turned up quickly (as it should with Prime) and I put off setting it up for all of five minutes... I’d had a poke about on the circle website so I pretty much knew what to expect and it was spot on. Once I worked out the little flag to set your country for the activation code its straight forward
The set up took me less than 10 minutes (and I can barely work the washing machine!).
I was able to set up all the devices at home, allocate them access levels and ignore the heating controller really easily.
We had a family chat and all agreed that there should be a wifi blackout for dinner every day, I was probably the worst offender in fairness!
So, so far so good. I’m happy knowing I have more control over what the kids can see online, there is so much stuff that is great for them but loads of inappropriate stuff out there. I feel this is the best answer for now, really recommended!
Works well. Grouped kids devices under their name, grouped all our Smart TVs under another and can control each group usage / off times each day.
A companion app is installed on the kids ipads to let them know when they are running out of allowance time each day, or have received a reward of extra time. For computers, they get a webpage showing usage too.
Other than assigning devices to groups based on MAC address descriptions the set-up was simple and straight forward.
I love the ease of having one profile for each child attached to multiple devices, and how easy it is to switch devices between children and parents. Plus how easy it is to pause their internet usage or set time limits and restrict certain apps, plus filter out inappropriate content. Also love you can see their internet history too. Highly recommended Disney Circle.
Note if your child has a smartphone there is Disney Go (monthly fee) which means their profile stays with them whichever friend's house they visit.
Circle doesnt require a companion app on the managed devices.. This might sound like a good idea initially, but what circle actually does is poison your network, tricking any devices trying to access the network/internet into going through it's filters first. If you have two devices in the house, then you probably wont notice much of the speed issues. However, if you're like my family and have at least 2 devices per person, you will really start to notice the problems. You see Circle has to manage traffic 1 by 1 and so the more devices are trying to gain access, the more they get backed up... the slower your network will run. Further, the Circle can only connect to a 2.4Ghz network, not 5Ghz like newer routers have, limiting traffic throughput even further. I have very high speed internet in my house, and with circle installed I would do a google search and the search results took 8 minutes to appear.
Now, some enterprising techs might read this and might point out that the circle needs to be next to your home network router as the further away it is it can slow the connection speed. MY circle was plugged directly into the router, sitting less than 6 inches from the router. My router is centrally located in my house to get the best coverage throughout and i use a higher end router.
The fact is, the circle is terrible.
Having previously left a negative review due to set up problems it is now time to change this review to something more positive. After posting the review, Circle's customer team were very quickly in making contacting to resolve the problems. The problem was finally found to relate to the channel that the home Wifi is broadcast on. For those that may have encountered similar problems The Circle will imitate your home Wifi settings during the initial setup process. If your 2.4Ghz Wifi is broadcast over a channel greater than 6 then the Circle can not imitate the channel so will not create the Hotspot. To resolve you this change the Wifi router channel to something less than 6. Factory reset your Circle and it will now create the Hotspot needed for setup.
Circle support have continued to stay in contact since this was resolved to make sure i'm still happy with everything so 'hats off' to the Circle Support team.
So going back to my original review;
1) I can confirm that Circle is 'officially' available in the UK,
2) Full support will be given by the Circle teams.
Am I now happy - Yes.
Circle has now been working for a few weeks and after the initial tweaking of the profile settings it is working really well - to the point that i'm now recommending the device to friends.
My only negative has been that the MyCircle app consumed lots of battery on my Android phone and sometimes the network at home appears a little slower. Buts that's a small price to pay compared to the positives.
Have spent nearly 3 hours unsuccessfully trying to set this up. I've been told by Circle support that Circle's are not officially available in the UK, yet Amazon are selling the device with a three pin UK plug (which looks like an official circle plug) and all the apps are available in the UK stores - that doesn't make much sense! I was also asked if I had an iPhone to set this up as it's easier to do than Android. How about Circle resolve those problems with Android rather than recommend I buy a new phone? And to top it all off the support agent hung up on the live chat session! Needless to say this will be going straight back to Amazon. My advice is don't buy one of these if you live in the UK and don't have an iPhone. Great in principle, but execution leaves a lot to be desired
Time limiting of apps. It cannot be set in wich time of usage each app. Which means e.g. if I restrict to 2 hours of Minecraft app, and 2 hours off Forthnite app, 2 hours off Netflix app then the kid has 6 hours of fun time a day!!!!
Bads: It is per gadget not per person. So a computer used by many is problematic. you need to change filter content and then i forget to reput it back. Very very hard.