Disclaimer: Despite the name, "Life360" won't help you find your long-deceased ancestors.
Every time we have a disaster anywhere in this country, I think of this cell phone app. I live in Florida and last year’s hurricanes certainly reminded me of the need to find and even track the whereabouts of family members. This app answers an age-old question: "Where are you?"
The Life360 app for iPhones and Android phones lets you know where some or all of your family members are located, plus or minus a few feet. This can be critical information when they have been evacuated to a storm shelter of some sort in advance of a hurricane or forest fire or tornado, or if they are simply stuck in a blizzard. Setting up alerts in the app will also allow you to know when family members have made it safely to their next destination.
Even better, it works locally. You can use Life360 to keep track of children as they roam around the neighborhood. It also will keep track of senior citizens when their mental acuity and memory isn’t what it used to be. Yes, if your senior citizen relative doesn’t know exactly where he or she is and, even worse, doesn’t know how to get home, you can see their location (plus or minus a very few feet) and either talk them through the path home or perhaps jump in the automobile yourself and go to pick them up. If your senior citizen relative is hundreds or even thousands of miles away, you can call the police department in the city where that relative is located and have a police officer find them and offer assistance.
In order to function, both you and all family members you wish to locate must have the Life360 app installed on their cell phones, and each phone must be turned on and communicating with cell towers or wi-fi hotspots.
Life360 also includes the ability to quickly and easily stay in touch with everyone in your family network with quick communication. It will even receive alerts when family members reach pre-determined locations. Sure, you could make frequent individual cell phone calls to each family member to check on each person’s status; but Life360 simplifies the process and then (optionally) automatically shares the results with all the other family members. You can talk to family members while knowing where they are. Have an emergency? There’s a button for that, too.
You don't need an impending disaster to make use of Life360. If a child is carrying a cell phone with Life360 installed, the app can also can keep track of that child's location to make sure the child is still in the neighborhood, at school, or wherever he or she is supposed to be.
Finally, if you or a family member ever misplaces a cell phone that has Life360 installed on it, any other family member's cell phone can be used to locate the exact location of the "wandering" cell phone.
Not bad for a free app!
To be sure, the use of Life360 isn't limited to blood relatives. I could see this being used by many groups of adults when hunting, fishing, at the ball game, or in any other place where some people need to locate other people in the group. Everything in the app is permission-based. No one will see anything they don’t need to. Also, all the information is limited only to other members of the same group. There is no way a hacker can see where your child or your “lost” parent is located. When you create a Life360 group, you get to decide who is invited and who isn't.
Nobody can see anyone else's location unless the person who created the group circle gave them permission to view such information. Also, the cell phone user can turn permission off and on to see his or her location whenever he or she wants. (Don't tell your children about that feature!)
Life360 is security-conscious. The app uses GPS technology, and your maps and chat channels are built with top-notch, bank-level security. Your locations and conversations will always be private, available only to people you invite.
Life360 is an excellent example of 21st century solutions for age-old problems.
In fact, there are two versions of Life360. The free version has been described above.
In addition, a Premium version adds extra functionality:
Set up as many places as you like, and receive automatic alerts when your family members arrive and leave from the places they frequent most. There is no need to manually query the app over and over, "Is he there yet?"
The free version shows where Circle members are NOW. The Premium version also shows 30 days of location history. That can be useful when talking to a teen-aged driver about where he or she went last night!
You can see more information, including pricing information, about the added features of the Premium version at: https://www.life360.com/intl/intl-plans-pricing/
Nothing is ever perfect, and this app is no exception. Obviously, Life360 relies on cell phone towers or wi-fi hotspots for communications. During a widespread emergency, such as a hurricane, the cell towers may be offline. (Where I live, cell towers are the one means of communication that have proven most reliable when normal, wired telephones are inoperative due to power outages and/or downed telephone lines. However, I believe history has been different in some other parts of the world.)
If cell towers are inoperative, Life360 will only work on wi-fi hotspots. Those short-range devices probably will be useless during a power outage.
In order to locate a specific family member, that person must have a cell phone with him or her and the phone must be turned on, along with the Life360 app. I suspect anyone aged 7-years-old or older can find a way to turn off the app or simply turn off the phone. (My experience has shown that teenagers will NEVER turn off their phones!)
During extended power outages, a cell phone's battery may go flat. (The Life360 app will notify the user when the battery is low.) Low batteries are easy to prevent with any of today's low-cost external batteries that connect to the cell phone's USB connector. However, many people do not carry such a battery with them. For automobiles, a low-cost power cord that plugs into the automobile's power socket that is on or near the dashboard will power a cell phone for weeks, even if the auto is stuck in a snowbank or if the cell phone’s internal battery is dead. You DO keep such a power cord in your automobile, right?
The Life360 app is not a perfect solution for all situations. However, it greatly REDUCES the problems of locating and communicating with family members in times of need. Live360 also includes a full range of support from live agents, certified specialists, and 24/7 emergency dispatchers. That is useful even if the app is installed on only one family member’s cell phone.
The Life360 app is installed on my cell phone. I don't use it often; but, when I do need it, I am glad it is there and running.
The Life360 app may be found in the Apple iPhone app store and in the Google Play Store (for Android devices). I suggest you start first with the free version and use it for a while. Then, if you decide to upgrade to the Premium version, you may do so later at any time.
More information about the Life360 app may be found at https://www.life360.com. (Watch the video on that web site.)