WHS 46 – Mobile Internet Filtering and Accountability: X3 Watch

Last week I reviewed Safe Eyes, a filtered browser available for iOS devices that makes a good substitute for Safari.  This week I’m covering X3watch: an accountability and filtering tool that keeps a record of your browsing activities.

X3 Watch is a service of XXXChurch.com, a “non-profit organization that exists to help people of all ages who are being assaulted by pornography.”

Before I get into the full review, I’d like to mention a sponsor of the podcast: Scholaric. Scholaric is the simplest homeschool record keeping system I’ve ever seen. Fewer settings. No unnecessary features and highly customizable. Check it out today and get a 3 month free trial. When you go to the site click on the button for the 15 day free trial and you’ll receive 3 months free. That’s scholaric.com/wiredhs2012. With Scholaric simple homeschool record keeping is just a click away!

No Safari for You!

X3 Watch Warning

The very first thing you will notice about X3 Watch besides the 17+ rating (I’ll address that later) is that it will not work if Safari is enabled on your device.  This means that in order to use X3 Watch you must enable iOS restrictions and disable Safari.  Of all the features I think this is the best.  It separates X3 Watch from the herd by requiring Safari to be disabled.  Since its main function is reporting and not filtering, this is a wise move on the part of the X3 Watch developers.

There is also a desktop version of X3 Watch so naturally you’d expect there to be some way to synchronize your settings between the two.  There isn’t.  Other than using the same account for reporting, you need to enter all the necessary setup data into the X3 Watch app.  Let’s take a look at the setup process.

When you first launch X3 Watch you’ll be prompted to disable Safari.  If you don’t know how, there are instructions are only a tap away.  Once you’ve disabled Safari you can begin the registration process.  Fill in all the appropriate fields and begin browsing.

As with any other browser, the features are limited by the iOS SDK.  I won’t rehash that here but you can read my comments about that in my review of Safe Eyes mobile.  You’ll find all the usual features: bookmarks, multiple windows, zoom, etc.  There is one other feature that I think you’ll like too.  If you attempt to visit a site that X3 Watch recognizes a porn, it will warn you and give you an opportunity to either bug out or continue.  This is a really nice feature and helps to keep you in check.

X3 Watch Falls Short

There are some glaring problems with X3 Watch that I think make that app a poor choice for children or people who struggle with pornography addiction.  First, I never received an accountability report.  There’s even an option to send a report out and that didn’t work either.  I checked my spam folder and couldn’t find the reports anywhere.  Second, I was able to change who I send my reports to, thereby completely defeating the app.  No email was sent to the previous accountability partner indicating that the settings had been changed.  That means that your child can go into the app and change the settings and continue browsing the Internet without any of the benefits of the application (except a pop-up warning).  At the very least, there should be a PIN required in order to change the settings.  Until these two flaws are corrected I cannot recommend X3 Watch for use on your child’s iOS device.

X3watch
X3watch - XXXchurch.com
Cost: $6.99
Category: Utilities
Language: English
Rated: 17+
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

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Music: Poofy Reel by Kevin Macleod.

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