Some would say that texting has gotten way out of control these days and is being used in ways that weren't initially intended.
It’s safe to assume that at first, texting was supposed to come secondary to phoning somebody. At most, it was supposed to be used in a way similiar to email, meaning you occasionally sent someone a quick message when you couldn’t speak or visit with them or you might send a quick text just to say hello, but occasionally, not all the time.
Today, however, sending a text is just about the standard form of communication, making things like phone calls seem ancient, not to mention actually taking the time to visit someone or get together with them in person, which is practically unheard of.
And it’s the same thing among families.
Many times, in order to communicate with family members — where Mom needs to check up on son and Dad needs to see if daughter is okay, it requires a lot of back and forth chatter, which of course is good. But whipping out your smartphone 10 times a day to check in with family members can be difficult, not to mention time consuming.
That’s where the mobile app Life360 comes in.
Designed for families
It’s a service that was especially designed for families, so they can keep tabs on each other a little bit easier, without having to text, call, email or post an update on a social page for the world to see.
Life360 is free and there’s a premium version for $5 a month, and the entire concept is based on using a virtual map that shows where each family member is, down to the exact address and location.
The smartphone map shows tiny photos of each person of your family that only you and your other family members will be able to see.
The app uses an invite-only method, so the company says that no one else will be able to track either you or your family members as you move around during your day, which is vital if the creators expect people to use this thing.
Not only does Life360 tell you where family members are, it notifies you of important places within that area like police stations and hospitals, just in case an emergency occurs and you need to advise your family member where to get help.
The app even alerts you and other users to current dangers in that specific area like crime or other shady happenings that have been recently reported.
Working off a GPS, Life360 tweaks the concept a bit, by adding a communication feature to quickly let the people in your family know that you've arrived safely somewhere.
On the upper right hand corner of the app is a tiny check icon, that when pressed, immediately tells family members that you’re at your destination and that you’re okay.
And you’ll know the check-in was actually sent, because the screen will say “Nice Work, your check-in is complete" then the app will give other people in your network the exact address, city and zip code of where you are.
The one-touch check-in process is supposed to eliminate the concept of over-texting and having to grab your smartphone each time you need to update a family member on your whereabouts.
The app seems good for parents too, as they won’t necessarily have to wait for their children to contact them when they arrive somewhere -- they can simply look on the map, see their photo and know their exact location, but if kids do need to check in, they can do so quickly without having to take time out of what they’re doing to send a text.
In addition, there’s a panic button that comes in the form of a red exclamation point, so if something does go wrong, you can press it and alert all of your family members that you need help, and it’ll pinpoint your exact location.
And, the app sends out a panic alert by text message, email and voicemail, which increases the chances that someone in your family will be notified of your situation.
Furthermore, the company added a feature that will automatically tell you if a family member arrives at a usual location like work or school, again cutting down on the amount of times you have to text. And if you‘d like, you can even get a record of where family members have been over the course of several days, which might come in handy for the parent who’s a little suspicious about their child’s whereabouts.
Not just for parents
And of course the app isn’t just for parents to check on their children, all members of the family can keep tabs on each other -- so if Mom is arriving home late, she’ll be able to notify everyone much easier and if Dad is out of town in another city, the family can see where he is and keep track of him a little better.
For the most part, Life360 has been reviewed quite favorably on the Internet and most of the general chatter says it works just as the creators say.
There was a mention about the GPS tracking going out in those towns that don’t have a decent Wi-Fi connection, but as that particular reviewer said, that has more to do with smartphones not being able to work properly in poor Wi-Fi areas than the app itself not working.
A few more complaints about the app had to do with the map not properly updating family members’ locations, but an employee of Life360 stresses that the service will only work with a good Internet connection.
“If location is not updating, check to make sure the application is logged in correctly,” wrote Jenn, replying to a connection complaint.
“The phone must be connected to the Internet in order to show its location. If the phone has an app killer, allow Life360 to run. Otherwise, the app will be turned off and will not submit location. Inside the app, go to Settings and allow Life360 to run in the background.”
But again, many people have found the app to be quite useful and we certainly recommend it here, especially because there were no reports or reviews of users having any privacy issues, which is always key.
Life360 can be used on Androids, iPhones, BlackBerrys and non-smartphones that use short messaging service (SMS).
Who knows, using the app could allow you to dramatically cut back on those annoying text messages, which can’t be a bad thing at all, right?