Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]

featured life360   Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]Last time, I looked at a few more ways to track your iPhone – a hot topic as the iPhone continues to dominate criminal wishlists. I came to the conclusion that simple location tracking of multiple devices or accounts was best done with Apple’s own “Find my Friends“, but in the process discovered an interesting family-oriented tracking app called Life 360 which I’d like to introduce in detail today.

Getting Started

Life360 requires each family member to create an account, which is free. The easiest way is to set one up yourself, then send an email invite to all the family members; that way they’ll automatically be associated with your family group.

Battery Life & Background Tracking

Although Life360 can function simply as an Android or an iOS-based GPS location tracker, this feature does tend to eat into battery life quite significantly, and the last thing you want to happen is for your child’s phone battery to die in an emergency.

Therefore I’d suggest disabling this right off the bat – once you’re logged in, from the home screen select the gears icon for settings, and go into tracking options.

One Click Check-In

checkin location   Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]

The most common thing a parent will ask their child to do when going somewhere is to simply call when they arrive; but let’s face it – calling your mum when you’re out with your friends can be more than a little embarrassing. An SMS text is one answer, but I think the one-click check in Life 360 is much better. Just launch the app, click check-in, and your location will be automatically pushed out to your family members along with a default “I’m safe” message.

Status Request

An alternative to checking in is for the parent to send out a forced check-in request. The recipient can then click a reply with “I am safe” or “I need help“, though I’m dubious as to how useful an “I need help” response actually is in a real emergency situation.

Emergency Alert & Other Quick Messages

Also on the one click menu are buttons for predetermined quick messages (the default includes things like “running late” or “on my way“, but you can edit these or simply enter a one off custom message).

alert messages   Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]

The emergency alert is interesting – click once and a 5 second countdown will begin – if you don’t cancel it, an emergency message is broadcast to your family along with the location.

Family Channel

Potentially the most genuinely useful in an emergency situation, the Family Channel (accessed by clicking Messages in the bottom right) enables you to start a VOIP call with all family members, which functions with only Internet for when regular phone lines are jammed. The quality isn’t fantastic, but quite useable – and free. It’s like your own mini instant family Skype session.

family channel   Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]

Neighbourhood Safety

By default, the map screen will also display nearby police stations, fire and hospitals – as well as registered sex offenders (at least, their registered addresses, it doesn’t actually track them in real time; also UK users beware because the data is all from the US, yet matches to UK addresses also leading to false positives).

safety points   Keep Your Family Safe With Life360 [iOS & Android]

You can turn these off from the settings if you like, but I can certainly see the value of being able to direct your child to the nearest police station if something happened.

Summary

I’ll admit I don’t have children yet, but if I did, I think I would definitely make use of the Life 360 app. I do think that children deserve their own freedom, and certainly as a teenager I got up to a lot I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have been 100% approving of; but just being able to use this app to check if your child is OK seems like a worthy function. You needn’t track their every move if it makes you uncomfortable.

If you’ve used the Life360 app, let us know what you think of it in the comments. Is it the ultimate family safety app for you? Or do you think it’s all just completely over the top?

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6 Comments -

0 votes

Nick

Oooo for the love of God, what next? Are we supposed to say when we sit on the toilet and when we stand up? Really guys … what the hell is this?

0 votes

muotechguy

I think a toilet seat that detects user by weight and auto-tweets a status update could be interesting, sure!

0 votes

Robin

I loaded this when you guys plugged it the other day. It’s a easy to set up but the battery drain is a pain. They are also still working out some bugs. The interface is clean and intuitive.

I’m torn between whether this is a helpful app or one that just supports feelings of insecurity and a need for control. Either way, I don’t doubt that such tracking features will become common place in our lives. Technology has fast eroded our sense of privacy with few objections. Generally people seem to be happy to trade in their privacy for access to social media and nifty gadgets.

0 votes

Maria Caren

I truly agree with you. Unfortunately, there are still many freaks out there and protection is a top priority. Given recent disturbing stats http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytfvoJetqJ8,
it seems that family phone protection needs to be considered seriously. A cell phone app called MobileMonitor is a quick and effective way to see whether your kids are being contacted by suspicious people. The app ensures 24/7 incognito monitor of your sweethearts phone activities on any Android (version 2.1 to 2.3.7) or iOS (version 3.0+) device. The app is available to download via Cydia. If interested, do check out: http://mobilemonitor.com/

0 votes

Andrew

I believe this is a great idea. I’d like to see if it could be married with Tasker so it would send out the phone’s location if a specific SMS or email were received.

I am a hunter and will hunt alone sometimes. If I don’t report in on schedule then I’d love for my wife to be able to send a message that would send my location to her.

Andrew

PS. I’ll need to check. Tasker might be able to do this natively.

0 votes

Helen

I love this app. It’s accuracy is off a bit for me when tracking my husband’s Android from my iPhone, so it wouldn’t do for the jealous type or for someone looking for an exact location. But it’s great for simple things. LIke… when i’m wondering if my husband has left work yet so I’ll know when to have dinner ready.
It came in very useful last week while we were out of town. I headed out with the kids, not knowing exactly where I was going to take them. When I found the perfect spot I sent the “I am safe” message to my husband so he would know where we were in case I needed help. It’s a very fast and simple way to check in with each other.
I also have a medical condition that requires frequent medication changes. It’s nice to be able to just update the Emergency profile so he can let medical professional know what meds I’m taking in an emergency. And I keep the kids vital stats up to date in case they should ever go missing (I’ve heard of mothers forgetting kids date of birth in such situations). Obviously, I don’t have any “Big Brother’ issues. I can see how someone who does would have issues with this app. But I love it. I hope I never have to use the “I need help” button, but I’ve tested it out and it seems like it would be useful in an emergency.