Five apps that can help you keep tabs on your loved ones — for better or for worse
This app for iPhone or iPad can follow your husband, wife, children and even your friends on sites like Facebook FB, Twitter , Instagram, Google Contacts and LinkedIn. Most social contacts are jumbled and split up across multiple devices, platforms and apps, but this app collects them in one place, says Ryan Allis, Chairman and Co-founder of the app. “Your Connect map has hundreds of your friends on it the first time you use the app,” Allis says. Unlike similar apps like Foursquare, it doesn’t use virtual check-ins, which can prompt users to activate their location settings (many people don’t realise that when they turn on location settings on their phone, location information can be embedded in shared photographs and status updates too). What’s more, the other person doesn’t need to have Connect installed or to accept an invitation from the app.
2. Find My Friends
Find My Friends for iPhone and Android allows you to keep up to speed on when your spouse leaves work, your child leaves school or even when a visiting friend arrives at the airport. “Friends who share their locations with you appear on a map so you can quickly see where they are and what they’re up to,” according to the app’s official site. The app syncs with phone contacts and maps on the iPhone. Users can also select what other Find My Friends users they want to interact with on their network. Not to be confused with Find My iPhone (free on iOS), which will give the location of a lost or stolen phone via Apple Maps on a map and also works for iPod, iPad Touch.
3. Trick or Tracker 3.0
Many parents want to keep track of their kids — and not just on Halloween. Wayne Irving, a father of four and the president and CEO of Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based technology company, Iconosys, has a novel solution. Trick or Tracker, available on Android or iPhone, can be used by up to seven family members at one time. The app must be downloaded on both parties’ smartphones — with their permission, of course. It can send text alerts when a child has travelled out of a previously agreed area, and it has a latchkey-kid feature that can ping a parent when a child arrives home. It tracks the phone using the geo-location data contained in text messages and sends the person’s location every 15 minutes. Irving says it could also be used to track a child in the unlikely event of an abduction, although some online reviewers have complained about its accuracy.
4. Phone Tracker
Phone Tracker is marketed to families with busy schedules and employers who want to track employees during work hours. It combines mapping and GPS technology to let you track your phone plus one other for free on Android and iPhone (follow 10 users with a 99-cent upgrade). The app doesn’t have to be open to work, and it can locate another person’s movement within the previous 24 hours and within 30 feet (10 meters). It can be programmed to log locations every two to 60 minutes. To follow another person, they must use the app too. A similar app — Glympse — free on Android and iOS — shares estimated arrival times and even the speed your spouse is traveling at. While the app is free, it has also received mixed reviews on the iTunes store.
Pitched for GPS vehicle tracking for companies and a way for parents to keep a tag on their children, AccuTracking has been around for over a decade even before the advent of Google Maps. “Our vision is to provide low-cost and simple to use applications that enable the tracking of any number of targets wherever and whenever the user chooses,” the company states. It adds, “Knowing where your vehicles, employees and physical assets are in real-time on your desktop computer is a valuable management and cost-control tool.” The app is downloadable through the phone’s web browsers. Caution should be applied when downloading software onto your phone that is not approved; Apple’s App Store does not support AccuTracking.