You know that feeling when you are walking to your car late at night and no one is around? There is no good light source and your car seems very far away. You, of course, have your keys ready but are still somewhat nervous? We reviewed two apps that help in situations like these – when you are concerned about your safety for any reason, these apps provide different ways for someone to watch over you. They turn your phone into an alarm system.
The first app, Guard My Angel, had one of the longest “terms of service” contracts I have ever seen on an app! Once you read through it all (and I actually did, to make sure I knew what I was reviewing) you can begin setting up and using the app. Guard My Angel uses your location (has to be activated) to allow a pre-designated person to keep tabs on you. You simply choose the people who you want to watch over you during an emergency, and add their text number and/or their e-mail address. You can also have the app post on your Facebook wall.
Once you have everything set up, you can activate your personal team by pressing “watch over me” on the home screen. You determine the length of time between 15 minutes and 6 hours. The team gets an e-mail letting them know they are ‘on call’ and if you do not cancel the alert before the time limit you have set up, they will get a follow-up email or text with your current location. If your phone is off they will get an email or text with your last known location. There is also an SOS button, in case you want them to be notified with your location immediately.
The second app, MyForce, takes the personalized alarm system to the next level. Rather than just connecting you to your chosen friends or family, MyForce uses a central monitoring station, similar to many house alarm systems. In order to use MyForce, you must register online before downloading the app. The registration will walk you through choosing a numerical password and a safe word. You can also put down an emergency contact, who will be notified in case of an emergency – but only after local emergency services have been notified.
MyForce has a monthly or yearly fee for the central monitoring station, though of course much lower than the fee for a home alarm monitoring service. Also, unlike a house alarm, MyForce allows the Central Station to monitor sounds and voices over your phone. MyForce recommends that anytime you feel worried about your safety, you should activate the alert. You are not charged based on the amount of times you activate the service, so there is no problem with starting the alert at any point.
As soon as you send the alert (big icon on the home screen), the central station will begin monitoring the audio from your phone. In case of a real emergency, they will be able to coordinate with local emergency services and get you the help you need. If you do not need help, you can cancel the alert at any time by entering the pin number you set up online. Once the pin number is entered, the central station will call to ask for your safety word to confirm that you are indeed ok.
Remember walking to the car late at night? If you activate MyForce when you start walking, you can be assured that you have someone listening to make sure you reach the car safely. If you’d like, you can talk out loud to tell the service exactly what you are doing. They will continue to monitor the audio feed until you press cancel. There is no time limit to the alert. MyForce will always call you before activating the local emergency services (you do not have to be afraid of police showing up because you accidently activated an alert – you will get that callback first). If you do not provide your safe word, or if your phone is off or inaccessible, they have all of your details and last location immediately available to coordinate assistance.
I ran into a hiccup setting up my account and was pleasantly surprised to reach customer service quickly on the phone late at night. They solved the problem and MyForce worked fine for me once set up was complete. I do recommend testing out the alert when you set the app up to make sure it is in working order.
These are two great personal safety apps with two very different functions. Guard My Angel offers a more social take on safety. I can see this being a great app for college students, anyone out for a night on the town, or just someone who wants to make sure there is a friend of family looking out for them. MyForce is a true security system that works with your phone to ensure you get the help you need when you need it.