Personal safety is something many of us take for granted, but it’s something that can be cause for concern for a great many more. How many of our daughters, sisters, and friends have felt uncomfortable or unsafe walking home, alone at night? In fact, how many of us all? It doesn’t matter who you are, there are sometimes unsafe situations we’d rather not be alone in, and even though we can’t always have someone physically with us, Trusted Contacts from Google aims to give you just a little bit more peace of mind.
The premise is simple, as explained by Google’s software engineer Minh Nguyen:
Once you install the Android app, you can assign “trusted” status to your closest friends and family. Your trusted contacts will be able to see your activity status — whether you’ve moved around recently and are online — to quickly know if you’re OK. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, you can share your actual location with your trusted contacts. And if your trusted contacts are really worried about you, they can request to see your location. If everything’s fine, you can deny the request. But if you’re unable to respond within a reasonable timeframe, your location is shared automatically and your loved ones can determine the best way to help you out. Of course, you can stop sharing your location or change your trusted contacts whenever you want.
Here’s a quick demo of how it works:
As a first release, we think this is an excellent idea. There are often times when I forget to tell people where I am, or where I’m going, and undoubtedly that causes a bit of concern from time to time. Of course, that’s usually remedied with a phone call or a message reminding me to check in, but what if I’ve forgotten my phone, or it’s in the car? This could be the answer.
Of course, Trusted Contacts isn’t designed just to address my forgetfulness; I can think of real life, useful situations where a service like this would be helpful. That said, there’s a few things on my wishlist:
- This should be like (or have an option to be a bit more like) Apple’s Find My Friends. Android doesn’t really have a neat answer to that party trick, yet.
- Cross-platform usability is a must; most of the people I’d nominated as trusted contacts don’t use Android. iOS compatibility is a must, and a simple web interface probably isn’t too bad an idea either.
As a first release, it’s a great start. I am looking forward to seeing where Google takes this.