Stay Safe With This Tracking App for Family and Friends

Here's how it works.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK

Amid what seems to be a rise in kidnapping cases in the country, you might think that listening to your instincts, avoiding walking through sketchy passageways at certain times of day, and simply informing people of your whereabouts via text are the best counter-measures against kidnapping. While all of them are certainly helpful to an extent—they are what the police and your parents would advise for you, after all—it's best to remember we live in an increasingly digital age, where there are mobile apps and safeguards in place to prevent kidnapping situations from escalating, so to speak.

Smartphones these days can do pretty much anything, if you put in the time to look for the right app. And we're not talking about just ordering food from a hidden gem resto or calculating the square root of pi in 0.01 seconds. We're talking about obscure tools like being able to calculate the crowd capacity of any location or making portraits out of your pets. Smartphones have apps for all our daily needs—even the most random, passing thoughts—and that includes being able to track your friends' and family's accurate location, phone battery percentage, and more.

Wondering what widget you're missing out on to get these features? Let us introduce you to Life360, a handy mobile app for protection against kidnapping and getting lost, or for just showing off your clinginess to all your close friends.

Here's how to use the Life360 app features:

Having been around for a few years now, Life360 is one of the most trusted family safety service apps that you can get on your phone. And don't worry, if you don't want your family to know about all of your comings and goings (we see you), you can even use the app with a group of your friends, instead.

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To get started, simply download the app via the App Store or Google Play Store. From the app, you can create a Circle, which is the group of users consisting of the friends or family you want to share your location and other information with. You will be prompted to choose a membership plan, but don't worry, there's a free plan that will give you all of the basic features.

These features include displaying on a map the accurate locations of everyone in your Circle, how long they've been at that location, and the battery percentages of their phone. Your locations on Life360 are displayed in real-time, as long as you are connected to WiFi or cellular data. Plus, of course, that your location feature is enabled all the time.

You can also view the location history of any person in your Circle. It shows you where they've been, what routes they took, how fast they were (presumably) driving, and if they made any stops along the way. If you're on the free plan, you'll have access to two days of location history only.

While this all currently sounds like clingy friend—or worse: controlling significant other—behavior, don't worry. The app has incredibly helpful emergency alert features, should you need it. There's an easily accessible SOS button on the home screen of the app that you can press to alert all the members of your Circle that you need assistance.

Additionally, you can add common places that members of your Circle visit onto the map, and you can get notifications of when they're arriving or leaving that location. This is especially useful with the return of face-to-face classes, you can make sure your friends or family are leaving and getting to school at the right times.

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There is also the option to turn off your tracking, but in the couple of years we've been using this app, we've never done so. If anything's been made clear with the recent headline, you never know when a crisis might occur. And, should one happen in your area, it's generally best that your friends and family know where you are.

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Anton Reyes for Spot.ph
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