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These apps will give you peace of mind.
The combination of video, GPS, and wireless capabilities makes the average smartphone a personal security device that’s accessible to practically everyone. Whether you’re walking home alone at night, looking for a lost child, or suspect an intruder has broken into your house, there’s an app designed to help.
Here are some of our favorite apps for personal safety.
For many of us, walking home alone at night is a dangerous but unavoidable part of life. The free Companion app sends a live map of your walk home to the loved ones you assign to act as “companions.” Companions don’t even have to download the app; they are texted a link to a GPS-enabled map that will allow them to see where you are on your trip home. If your headphone gets yanked out, your phone falls to the ground, or you start running, the app will ask you if you are OK or if you want to call the police. If you don’t respond within 15 seconds, the app will notify your companions that something is amiss.
While user reviews of Companion are overwhelmingly positive, many include suggestions for possible improvements. One user pointed out that Companion may prematurely tell your loved ones you’re OK. The app automatically sends a text saying you’ve arrived home as soon as its GPS detects you have reached your final destination. But for many this could leave you vulnerable for several minutes as you find your keys or wait for the doorman to buzz you inside the building. Phone numbers can only be entered in U.S. format, a problem that Companion is working to solve.
Presence is a free app that lets you repurpose your old smartphones, iPods, and tablets to act as an in-home security system. The app sends you an alert when it detects motion inside your home. You can even invite family members, roommates, or friends to receive these alerts. The app works with iPhones as old as the 3GS series and the iPod Touch 4G and 5G.
3) Send Help
The effectiveness of Send Help is due to its simplicity. Think of it as an all-purpose panic button for whenever you’re in a risky situation. With a simple push of a button, Send Help sends a link with your GPS location to your loved ones. The app can also post your location to Facebook and Twitter.
4) Family Locator by Life360
The Family Locator app by Life360 lets you see the location of family, friends, and loved ones you assign to be in your “circle.” Instead of constantly texting your loved ones to see if they’ve arrived somewhere safely, this app will let you see for yourself. The app enables group messaging, and it allows users to send directions from wherever they are. Users can also create zones around home, work, school, and other frequently visited locations to see if loved ones are in the vicinity.
5) Drunk Mode
Never again will a late night out end with a member of your crew being M.I.A. With the Drunk Mode app’s “Find My Drunk” feature, you can easily track a missing drunk friend by GPS. You can add “Drinking Buddies” prior to a night out through Facebook, Twitter, or a text message. For the morning after, the app’s “Breadcrumbs” feature also gives you a handy reminder of your whereabouts from the previous night.
If you ever feel like you’re in (or are entering) a dangerous situation, hopefully you will have SafeSnapp downloaded and ready to go. With the push of a button, the app quickly takes three photos of your assailant. It then sends the photos, along with your GPS location, to your email and the email address of a loved one within seconds, the app claims. SafeSnapp won’t prevent attacks, as it boldly claims in its App Store claims, but if you’re lucking enough to get a good snap, that info will be valuable to the police as they conduct their investigation.
The gold standard of personal safety apps might be bSafe. Much like Companion, the bSafe app allows friends you assign as “guardians” to track your trip home via GPS. If you’re ever in a bind, a simple press of a button on bSafe will simultaneously sound an alarm and send a text message alert to your friends that you are in danger. The app will also begin recording video of the incident. Video, voice, location, and timestamps of the incident are kept in bSafe’s servers if users ever need to provide information to the police. An added perk for those on Tinder dates is bSafe’s “Fake Call” feature. In case you think you’ll need an excuse to make a quick exit, the app lets you set a time when you’ll receive a fake call.
Billie Grace Ward/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.