Software, Travel and living

Personal Travel Safety Apps

travel-safeWhile security software and keeping track of your phone can help you enjoy a vacation, personal safety is even more important than protecting your mobile devices. As you work to protect your devices from thieves and malware, don’t forget to keep safe in unfamiliar or potentially dangerous streets, too! Here are several app families that can make sure your spouse, friends or children stay protected from attack or receive immediate aid if necessary.

“Share Your Location” Apps: This family of apps is all about letting other people know where you are, where you are going, and when they should expect you. It is an incredibly useful “plan ahead” app for vacations, particularly when people want to split up to see separate sites and meet later at a certain destination. Most of these apps feature a real-time function that allows your family and friends check to see where you are, or at least receive a message about your plans when you make them.

Glympse is a popular app for this type of safety tracking, since it is free and works on nearly any smartphone platform. It is also flexible, allowing for email, texting, and links to real-time digital maps of your location. Google Latitude is another popular choice - it lets you choose how much location data you want to give your friends, which makes it easy to adjust based on distances (although it only works with Google Maps).

Alert Apps: Alert apps offer more general safety functions in case of any type of attack or hostile behavior. Bring the app up, tap a button, and it sends an immediate alert to friends or family concerning your position and how you may need some help or be in danger.

The way Alert apps work can vary considerably. For Android users, bSafe lets people appoint a list of Guardians who will all receive the alert. FightBack, also available on Blackberry devices, sends alerts to up to five contacts but also inputs your location - anonymously - into a map that can be reviewed to spot trouble spots ahead of time (especially handy in foreign cities). Apps for iOS like OnWatch let you choose between calling friends, 911, local authorities, or a combination. While OnWatch is designed primarily for college students, similar apps provide benefits for all ages.

Instant Video Capture Apps: Instant video capture apps help you capture video and audio for a set amount of time, typically no more than a minute. This can be both a deterrent to any type of assault and - since the clip is forwarded to friends - a boon to seeking immediate aid. Video capture tends to be used in combination with other types of apps: Eyewatch, a popular version which works across all major platforms, captures a video clip, alerts key contacts, timestamps the clip with a time and location, and even shows your contacts and the signal strength of your phone at the time of the clip. It may be elaborate, but it also highly effective.

Alarm/SOS Apps: Alarm and SOS apps focus primarily on scaring potential criminals away. Scream Alarm for Android simple screams, over and over: SOS Siren Alarm does the same for iOS, with a variety of sounds. SOS Whistle, PanicLock…a myriad of apps provide this basic feature. The goal of these very simple apps is to attract attention, scare attackers, and stop problems before they start.

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