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Communication is key to a successful family, and technology is great at helping us communicate. That doesn’t just mean talking with each other, though. Good communication in a family is as much about the ability to not talk; to not need to ask every single detail; or to make it easier to share information.

From incentivizing kids to do their chores to figuring out the best time to call dad at work, the right tool can help you avoid friction and fights, and ensure there’s a healthy atmosphere in the home.

FamilyInSafe (Web, Android, iOS): Chat, Manage Tasks, and Track Anyone’s Location

FamilyInSafe is the latest in a long line of single apps to manage all your family’s needs How to Manage Your Household Using Just One Simple App: Famjama & Cozi Compared How to Manage Your Household Using Just One Simple App: Famjama & Cozi Compared Read More , like Famjama and Cozi. Compared to the older options, FamilyInSafe is limited in its features — but that also makes it simpler to use. Sign up, invite your family members or friends, and you’re ready to begin.

Top-Family-Apps-FamilyInSafe

 

FamilyInSafe has a chat window for all of you to talk together, along with one important feature — a map showing your current location. As we’ve said before, tracking your loved one’s location isn’t always evil Why Tracking Your Significant Other's Location Isn't Always Evil Why Tracking Your Significant Other's Location Isn't Always Evil But is it really so wrong to track your partner's movements, assuming it's consensual? Read More . If you have a trustworthy family, it can be an invaluable tool to make your lives easier. For example, if your daughter sees that you’re at the supermarket, she can quickly tell you to pick up a few items and save you a trip later. And yes, you can toggle this location-sharing on and off.

Additionally, FamilyInSafe also has a built-in shared task list, so that everyone can add their grocery items Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps Check out these awesome grocery shopping list apps to help you stay organized! Read More or a parent can list all the chores that need to be done at the house today.

Download: FamilyInSafe for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

ChoreMonster (Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone): Incentivize Chores for Kids or Adults

Speaking of chores, ChoreMonster is an excellent tool to employ for those with young kids — or heck, even adults who want to split tasks and offer a treat for following through. Just list the tasks, assign them to a person, and set a deadline. Completing the task earns that person points (and new monsters too). The points can be redeemed for rewards.

The rewards can be anything from actual money to things like staying up to watch TV for one day a week. You could even set up a recurring chore and have a grand payoff, like a trip to Disneyland. The big pay-off is that as an “adult” in charge of the app, kids can’t cheat since you need to approve the fact that they’ve finished a chore!

Download: ChroreMonster for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)| Windows Phone (Free)

Choremonster isn’t the only app of its kind. You might also want to try OurHome or other similar apps to split household chores 4 Android Apps for Taking Care of Household Chores 4 Android Apps for Taking Care of Household Chores Need to get some chores done? These apps will help you get them done and might even make them (gasp!) fun. Read More .

Prevoo (Android, iOS): Know When Someone’s Busy or Available

Speaking of being a functional family, one of the cornerstones is respect — specifically, respecting another’s space and time. If someone is busy, you shouldn’t be bothering them to chat. If someone doesn’t pick up your call, you shouldn’t hold that against them — they might not have been near their phone. One app can ease these potential points of friction. It’s called Prevoo.

Once you have all installed Prevoo on your smartphones, you will see if someone else is already on a call, or if they haven’t checked their phone in a few hours. It is a simple way of knowing when not to disturb someone or grant them some time to get back to you. It’s all about phone etiquette Leaving Voicemails, and Other Prickish Phone Habits Leaving Voicemails, and Other Prickish Phone Habits Having private number on, leaving voice mails, not returning calls, or calling unnecessarily all ruin voice calls for the rest of us. Read More .

The app can also notify you when a person is free, so you know the right time to call. Imagine that your significant other is busy with an important project and you disturb them to ask for something trivial like the cable guy’s number. Potential fight averted, thanks to Prevoo!

Download: Prevoo for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

ContactBox (Android, iOS): Share Address Books with Everyone

Families often need to contact the same people. You might have stored Uncle Tom’s number, but that doesn’t mean your kid does. And darn it, does anyone know the plumber’s private number which he shared last time? ContactBox lets you share address books — a feat that’s difficult to do even with all the tricks in Google Contacts 5 Great Tips To Manage Your Google (& Android) Contacts 5 Great Tips To Manage Your Google (& Android) Contacts Read More .

Once you install the app, give it access to your address book, and then start making lists of your contacts. For example, you can have a list of all those people involved in household repairs. Another list can take care of your relations in the city. A third list can be of work colleagues and emergency contacts at the office. Maybe another list of all the take-home food joints. Now just share this list with another ContactBox user, and just like that, your address books will be synced and automatically updated when either of you adds new numbers to it.

Download: ContactBox for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

MediSafe (Android, iOS): Remind Loved Ones to Take Meds and Get Reports

You’re miles away and you wonder to yourself, “Did Dad remember to take his meds today?” MediSafe is a family-based app to track all the medicines you need to take, get reminders when it’s time 3 Free Android Apps That Help To Remind You To Take Pills On Time 3 Free Android Apps That Help To Remind You To Take Pills On Time The days of simple diagnoses and simpler one-pill that cures all is long gone. These days it’s a cocktail of pills that addresses every illness one is unfortunate to encounter. The geekiest option is of... Read More , and also alert your family in case you don’t check in. Like we said at the start, sometimes, less communication is essential. Instead of a nagging call every day asking if you took the meds, here’s a friction-less way to check in.

MediSafe also generates weekly reports based on how well a person has been taking meds on time. It also has options to log your blood pressure, glucose levels, and other important information that you won’t share with a family member every day, but a doctor might find useful in case of an emergency. And yeah, you can even schedule and track appointments!

Download: MediSafe for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

What’s Your Must-Have Family App?

My family is increasingly dependent on WhatsApp, not just for talking, but also to share our current whereabouts, send each other photos, and other such communication. Facebook, on the other hand, is only for the extended family.

What about you? Which app is your family using on a regular basis? How has it helped improve your lives and your relationships?

Image Credit: Happy family by wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock

  1. Lauren
    September 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    My kids used ChoreMonster last year, now we use Homey and it's better because I can organize my whole family in there.

  2. fcd76218
    May 31, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I could have commented by smoke signals but then my comments would have wound up in the cloud.

    Your bemusement reminds me of the old "Love it or leave it!" crowd. It is BECAUSE of my security concerns that I comment on a technology forum, using the Internet, in the hopes of raising the same concerns in others. If you do not share my concerns, oh well, you're entitled to your opinion.

  3. Lina
    May 4, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I have two kids and those who are parents too can imagine how difficult it can be to take care of your children and keep your house in order. Therefore, MCPlayer that i found on iTines recently became very helpful to me. It is HD wireless video player, streamer and controller. Sometimes when I am cooking in the kitchen and my kids are bored, I can easily turn on a cartoon on iPad with the help of this app. In such a way I keep on doing my business and children are having fun.

  4. Jane
    April 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    This list of apps is rather strange for me and my family. Maybe it's because my children are too small to give them deadlines and lists of tasks))

    What about "ArkMC" - wireless media server and player.

    It is absolutely amazing. I love that I can send and then control multiple streaming media to various devices throughout my house, so that everyone is happy, and I remain in control.

    I take my phone and send cartoons to iPad for my son in his bedroom, or movie for daughter in the livingroom, and I can control its playback.

    And one more we love to stream our photos on TV HD screen and watch them all together with this app.

  5. Tom
    April 24, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I noticed that FamilyinSafe seems to require your email password to create an account. Now, why in the world would they need that!!! No thanks.

    • Tom
      April 24, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Sorry. They require verification from your email account, but don't tell you that.

  6. Katie K
    April 23, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    We, both sets of parents of my kids, love Cozi....and I'm sorely disappointed you left them off the list!!!! It the the best calendar program out there to keep track of anything and everything you need--color coded too, plus chock full of other features like shopping lists that YOU can create and make as many you need, same for the To do and their Gold membership I feel is worth it for the reminders of calendar events, among other features. You really need to review that one too, next time you do a 'Family App' review

  7. fcd76218
    April 23, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I'm sorry but these 5 apps are solutions looking for a problem. The "problems" that they solve can be, and have been, quite easily solved without smartphones. In fact these apps create one big problem. Since smartphones are very hackable and crackable, they can leak personal and private info like a sieve.

    Children, even teenagers, do not need a smartphone to keep in touch with Mom and Dad. A flip-phone is quite sufficient.

    "FamilyInSafe"
    Do you want miscreants of all kinds knowing the location of each and every family member?! The possibilities for mischief are endless.

    "ChoreMonster "
    We use a very archaic method to assign chores - pen and paper. Why spend $700 on an iPhone just to tell the kid it's their job to take the garbage out?!

    "Prevoo"
    Why not just use some common sense? If someone is not responding to phone calls or messages, they are most probably busy.

    "ContactBox "
    Goody gumdrops. Because of smartphone's weak security, you can share your contact list with the entire underworld.

    "MediSafe"
    The only marginally useful app. Maybe. Did Dad forget to take his pills or did he just not update the app? There are pill containers that are available at Wally world or Dollar Store for a $1 or $2. They have either 7 or 14 compartments with days of week embossed on them. Any member of the family can check whether Dad took his pills and which ones just by looking in the compartment(s). No need for mulri-hundred dollar smartphone. Pill boxes have no Internet connectivity so they cannot spill their secrets to all and sundry.

    • Mihir Patkar
      April 23, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      It is possible, just possible, that they might be solutions for people who aren't you?

      • fcd76218
        April 23, 2016 at 9:12 pm

        Anything is possible. It is also possible that someone at MUO will be writing an article on how to de-crapify a smartphone and/or how to prevent our lives from being completely controlled by the smartphone.

        • Chandra
          April 24, 2016 at 1:03 pm

          I am with you fcd. We don't need smart tech to tell us what we are doing for ages....

        • fcd76218
          April 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          I'm not against using technology when it actually makes things easier for us. I am against using technology just fort the sake of using technology. Why text the kids that dinner is on the table when a shout or a bell will do?

      • fcd76218
        April 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm

        @Mihir:
        I understand that you like the 5 apps and you may even use them, so you are recommending them to others. However, at least two of the apps could be dangerous to the users because of the weak security of smartphones.

        FamilyInSafe - if anybody hacks into any smartphone used by the family, they will know the location of each and every family member at any time. Burglars will know when no one is at home and for how long. Although it may seem far-fetched, kidnappers could target the kid(s), knowing when and where they are alone.

        ContactBox - when it comes to e-mails, we safeguard our contact lists jealously to prevent spam and/or identity theft. ContactBox voluntarily disseminates contact lists all over the ether. As far as I am concerned that is a severe breach of security and privacy.

        All those smartphone apps out there do make our lices much more convenient. However, convenience comes at a price - security and privacy. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin - "Those who would give up essential security to purchase a little temporary convenience deserve neither security nor convenience."

        • Colin
          April 25, 2016 at 8:17 am

          Hmmm...

          a) If you were the only person on the block, then yes a burglar who is lucky enough to find/steal your phone AND hack it - you do have a decent password on your phone? - might "...know when no one is at home and for how long." But how long does it take before you notice your phone is missing? An old eejit like me might take a few hours, but my kids would notice in a matter of minutes and would let me know ASAP. We would then simply disconnect the app until the phone was replaced, select new passwords, and move on.

          b) "ContactBox voluntarily disseminates contact lists all over the ether". Realy? ALL OVER the ether? Overexaggerate much?

          It states above that YOU need to "... share this list with another ContactBox user" and, going by your "burglar scenario" anyone who finds my phone will have my uncle's number anyway! Or do you believe there are people out there scanning/stealing smartphones just for random numbers to spam?

          If you get spam - and we all do - you use a spam blocker. It's annoying, but it's no big deal.

          Identity theft is real, but I know of one actual person who was robbed, and I suspect that person probably played a big part in that crime - they are pretty lackadaisical and not particularly tech-savvy. I can almost picture them typing in their PIN code while chatting to store staff, and not noticing the guy behind who was watching those code taps very carefully. They had money stolen from their credit card, but it was replaced by the credit card company, so not a lot of suffering on my friend's part - in fact, a lesson learnt.

          I also read of another guy who was called by "his" bank. He called them back (but it was the scammers number) and then he actually gave them his security details. Which bank would ever ask for you security codes? None of them! That guy was also complicit in that crime, by not exercising due diligence. You cannot legislate for stupidity.

          c) If people like or don't like apps like the ones here and it doesn't affect me, then that's fine. But I want to know where my wife/kids are when they're running late. But none of my family use location apps because my wife's heard stuff like "... kidnappers could target the kid(s), knowing when and where they are alone." My point is this - if you spread fear, you're going to get folks fearful.

          P.S. I could just as easily claim that kids could "get stuffed in the trunk of a car on the way home from school" . That earworm would result in fearful parents driving kids a few hundreds of yards to school and back and we'd have jammed traffic from 7:30-9am and 3-4:30pm every school day. Oh....

        • fcd76218
          April 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          a) No physical possession is needed to hack the phone.

          b) If it uses WiFi, anybody with the rudimentary equipment can listen in.

          c) Be very, very afraid. Just because you are paranoid does not mean that someone is not out to get you. :-)

          "parents driving kids a few hundreds of yards to school and back and we’d have jammed traffic from 7:30-9am and 3-4:30pm every school day. "
          Have you been to a suburban school lately during those times? Even without FUD, mommies and daddies insist on driving their precious darlings. They feel it is too traumatic for their hell raisers to ride the school bus.

        • Matt
          May 31, 2016 at 6:20 am

          Genuinely bemused by a guy obsessing on security concerns with technology and bemoaning the loss of the good old days, but is still using the internet to access and comment on a story on a technology oriented website.

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