The AOL Time Warner subsidiary said it has improved parental control features in AOL 8.0 by making them easier to use. Parents will be able to see more easily the level of control assigned to each person on their AOL account and to adjust the restrictions over the Web whether they're at home or at work.
Perhaps more significantly, the company later this year will start issuing "report cards" listing Web sites that a child has visited, part of what AOL calls a new suite of "family-security" features. It said more than 16 million of its roughly 35 million customers use the parental control features in its software.
AOL 8.0 also includes new ways to send music clips through AOL Instant Messenger, and a new You've Got Pictures service for sharing organising digital images. The upgrade also provides better ways to manage e-mail and filter out unwanted messages, according to AOL, as well as new sounds and icons to jazz up Instant Messenger.
AOL began a more limited beta test of AOL 8.0 in June and expects the finished product to ship later in the third or early fourth quarter, the company said.
The company has also launched a new version of its search tool for AOL an member that is powered by Google's search engine. AOL said in May that it would use Google's search engine for all of its brands, which also include CompuServe and Netscape.
Besides offering results more quickly, it said users would be able to retrieve results that are more relevant to the region where they live. Tapping users in emerging markets has become a focus for AOL as it tries to grow its business against stiff competition from Microsoft's MSN service and other rivals.