October 30, 2012

Family Locator Apps for Phones Review

Do you want to make sure your family is safe? Do you want to know your family's location at all times? Then you need a Family Locator app for your phones. Here are some of the most popular Family Locator apps for phones.

Find My Friends app

Family Locator apps provide private location sharing within your family. With the app installed on each phone, you can keep track of your family’s location at all times.

How Do Family Locator Apps Work?
A Family Locator app uses the phone’s GPS to track the phone’s location.
(GPS has to be On, location-sharing has to be On)

Or, if the GPS is Off or for phones without GPS, the app uses data from the nearest cell-tower to locate the phone.
(phone has to be On)

For the app to locate a family member, they should have the phone with them at all times, the phone should be On, have a good cell signal and (for phones with GPS), location-sharing should be On. A good GPS signal – available outdoors and in most places - is needed for gps-location to work.

Family Locator App Features
Family Locator apps include some or all of the following features. With the app you can
  • See the location of each family member on a map at all times.
  • Set location-based alerts. For example, get an alert when your child reaches home or get an alert when your teenager does not reach school by a specific time (perhaps they decided to become Ferris Bueller for the day)

    The app enables setting up geo-fences around locations and setting corresponding alerts – positive-location or negative-location.
  • Checkin at a location
  • Chat within the group.

Some apps also provide additional feature to monitor kids – e.g. to alert you if the teenager is speeding in their own car or their friends car – functions somewhat similar to the ProgressiveSnapshot.

With that introduction, here is a list of the most popular family locator apps.

Find My Friends  by Apple – iOS
  • Free app.
  • All devices used have to be Apple iOS devices – iPhone, iPad, iPod – running iOS 5 or later.
  • Unique feature - you can share location with others for a set time, which is a great convenience while sharing your location with friends.

Family Locator +  - Android
  • Free App

MamaBear – iOS, Android
  • Free App
  • MamaBear goes beyond being just a family locator app. It takes up the task of protecting the kids. It can also - monitor kids Facebook activities, monitor kids Instagram activities, find out how fast your teenager is driving etc
  • With MamaBear, you can receive alerts when your kid is not at school during a specified time, is not at a location during a specified time, visits places that are off-limits, leaves a drop-off location etc.

Life360 – iOS, Android
  • Free for phones with GPS
  • $5/month – to locate a phone with no-GPS
  • Life360 also provides group messaging within the family
  • Life360 wants to further protect your family by mapping sex offenders nearby, providing you with free credit reports etc. If you feel the need for such features from a Family Locator app, then Life360 may be the right choice.

Moby Family Locator – iOS, Android, Blackberry
  • Free App
  • Family members can checkin from a location and when needed, send a “help-please” message

The apps mentioned above are free (with some paid premium features).

In addition, your wireless phone provider will have a Family Locator service for you – for a fee. Family locator apps are one of the biggest revenue generators (for an app) for wireless carriers.

Family Locator services are available from each of the wireless providers. 

Verizon Family Locator – Android, Web App
  • $10/month

Safely by Location Labs is the largest provider of Family Locator services that are sold by multiple wireless providers under their brand.

Safely works for gps-phones and no-gps phones. It can track location and setup location-based alerts. Safely’s Drive Safe app can block a teenagers phone while driving etc.

Safely enabled Family Locator services include

AT&T FamilyMap – any AT&T phone
  • $10/month for 2 phones
  • No support for iPhone 5 yet

Sprint Family Locator – any Sprint phone
  • $5/month for 4 phones

T-Mobile FamilyWhere – any T-Mobile phone
  • $10/month for FamilyWhere Locate
  • Free checkins from locations.

If you are using a Locator app – such as BizzMo Partner Locator - to track your boyfriend, track your girlfriend or track your wife, husband or track your kids – remember you need to get the ok of the person being so tracked. It is never a good idea to track someone without his or her knowledge.

Is there a Windows Phone 8 Family Locator service?
Windows Phone 8 just got announced. The wireless carrier Family Locator services can be used with Windows Phone 8 also. Over time expect more Family Locator apps to be available for these phones.

What about Google Latitude?
Google Latitude can also be used for private location sharing - to track location of family, friends on a map.

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