Safe Search Makes Sense for Student Tablets. Here’s How to Implement it. 

Many Android device use cases don’t require browser access. Internet access can be detrimental on Android tablet kiosks or mobile point-of-sale (mPoS) systems. But, a growing number of use cases require limited web access. Customers from the education sector have asked about blocklisting specific URLs for safe student browser experiences. 

Students often need data connectivity and browser access to complete homework assignments. But, full internet access doesn’t always make sense. Schools often want to make sure students can access homework-related websites and protect students from inappropriate web content. 

Using Chrome Managed Configuration APIs to Create a Custom Browser Experience

Luckily, it’s possible to create a customized, safe chrome browser experience for students and other end user groups. With the help of managed configuration APIs, I devised a way to use Chrome managed configurations to:

  1. Place specific URLs on an allowlist
  2. Place specific URLs on a blocklist
  3. Disable browser incognito mode on Android
  4. Enable forced Safe Search on a device

    Note: Google has renamed the URLBlacklist and URLWhitelist configurations on Chrome version 86 and above as URLBlocklist and URLAllowlist.

Chrome Managed Configuration APIs have the potential to fit many different use cases, but the four steps I listed out above are sufficient for limited browser access in education.  

By creating an allow / blocklist, disabling incognito mode, and forcing safe search, educators can help drive safe, productive tablet learning experiences on Android student tablets. Chrome Managed Configuration APIs can allow anyone to prevent students, employees, or customers from accessing inappropriate content with the browser.

Here’s the command args used to customize browser access with Managed Configuration APIs for Chrome.

command_args = CommandArgs(
        "managedAppConfigurations": {
            "": {
                "URLBlocklist": ["","",""], # not allow these websites to work
                "URLAllowlist": ["*"], # rest all allowed to open
                "IncognitoModeAvailability""1",   # disable incognito mode
                "ForceGoogleSafeSearch" : "true",   # enable safe search to work
                "HomepageLocation"""  # set chrome home page

It’s possible to apply the same approach to other Android apps from Google Play Store if they offer managed configuration parameters. For example, restrict access to use of specific accounts on the apps like Outlook, Gmail etc.

This sample code can be run by Esper customers whenever needed to manage application configurations for 1+ Android devices or 1+ device groups. 

Safe browser mode matters, especially when it comes to creating safe, productive student tablet experiences. Creating customized managed configurations for Chrome and other common apps can drive productive end user experiences on Android. 

Stay tuned for more Android EdTech content on the Esper blog in the days to come!