Everyone wants to know about the best app for keeping their kids and family out of danger and aware of each other’s status. We think it’s safe to say that the Life 360 app has demonstrated a certain level of dominance in this area. Check out the following article from CNET on the real story of how Life360 saved lives. We’ll be adding our commentary and remarks in between paragraphs.
A few months ago, Tessa Hulls ventured on a cross-country bike trip from San Diego to the East Coast after breaking up with her boyfriend. Hulls is still peddling away on her solo ride, but her family has, in a sense, joined her. She’s attached a GPS locator to her pink and white bike and downloaded an iPhone app called Life360 so her family can see her location in real time, whenever they want to.
Don’t worry, you’ll see in a little bit that the app is available on more than just iPhones now.
A couple of days ago, her brother Chris Hulls was curious about his sister’s whereabouts, so he clicked on the Life360 app on his iPhone. She was in Connecticut.
That’s good to know, right? Maybe Chris was just curious about his sister’s progress and time but it could have been for any number of reasons and the ability to know was at his finger tips.
Until now, subscribers needed an Android device or iPhone to use the mobile security service. Last week, however, Life360 opened up its service to non-smartphone users and customers subscribing to all carriers except MetroPCS, as a way to tap into a bigger market of consumers.
This isn’t just good business for the Life360 people, it means that they can keep more people safe and aware by opening up the service and app to a larger population segment.
“For smartphones, we get your location through a mix of GPS, cell triangulation, and Wi-Fi data. We save that on our server and share it with your family members,” said Chris Hulls, who also happens to be Life360’s co-founder. “For non-smartphones, we do the same thing, but instead of getting the location from our app, we get it from the carriers directly.”
So no matter what you’re using…cell phone, smart phone, dumb phone, etc…somebody will always know where the other members of your family are.
In addition to tracking family members on a map (depending on a person’s position, the app can pinpoint their precise location or locate them within a few tenths of a mile) Life360 provides a lifeline in the event of an emergency. When phone lines and other communication systems go down, family members can send messages to their contacts for free through the company’s servers. When minor disasters of everyday life hit, users can just hit a panic button, which flashes a notification via voice, text, and e-mail, telling your emergency contacts where you are and how to help.
Hulls got the idea for a real-time GPS tracking application when he realized disaster responders after Hurricane Katrina lacked the tools to find potential victims.
And this is the kind of things that happen in real life…no matter how much we don’t want to face the possibility. The odds are in your favor, sure, but it’s best not left up to odds. Always having something to track your child’s whereabouts is a huge, huge peace of mind and lifesaver.
“I saw the government’s ‘high-tech’ response was to encourage people to download and print out PDF files so you could write down your emergency contacts, and thought that there must be a better way,” said Hulls.
The app also shows where sex offenders live in a given neighborhood.
(See? This is where the app is about more than just knowing where your loved ones are but also about knowing what is around you and them for safety and awareness. You can use this knowledge to educated your child as well.)
The creators of Life360 soon realized the product’s appeal would be far less urgent. It turns out Life360 is most commonly used by moms and dads worried about their kids.
Smartphone users have to download the app, so both parties can see location updates at their leisure. Non-smartphone users are sent a request via text message, asking for permission to be tracked by family members with smartphones.
“I think privacy concerns are understandable,” Hulls said. “With Life360, as it’s designed for the family network, everything is private and secure to your loved ones and even then they have to opt in.”
Life360 makes money when customers buy GPS locators that can track any object, so they can stick one on a kid’s backpack. The company charges $5 a month for non-smartphone users to use the tracking service.