If you frequently travel alone through deserted or unsafe parts of the city, it might be a good idea to download a few apps for your safety. In the unfortunate event of an attack, these apps might help you quickly alert friends or family members. They can use this information to alert police or authorities concerned. If you install these apps, please remember to place them on the homescreen of your smartphone. Also, practice taking your phone out of your bag or pocket, and quickly opening one of these apps. During an emergency, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with your phone, in search of an app. Ensure that your phone is always connected to the internet, the GPS is on and that it is charged. If needed, carry a portable battery pack to charge the phone while commuting. These measures might seem obvious, but don’t take them for granted. When you are in danger, every second counts.
Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Indian navigation company MapMyIndia has recently launched an app called ReachMe. As the name suggests, it lets your friends find you. Unlike some other apps that limit the number of emergency contacts, ReachMe lets you share your location with your contacts via WhatsApp, SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter and Skype. When tested on an iPhone, the app was able to determine our location within three seconds. Sharing a location is easy, but it takes at least four clicks to send your location to any contact. In future versions, it would be great to see sharing options on the app’s main screen itself. The app sends a link and an alphanumeric PIN to your contacts. Those who have installed ReachMe can enter the PIN in the app to see where you are. This app is useful when you’re lost or in danger and MapMyIndia’s maps have house-level data for most cities.
Kochi-based MindHelix has developed an app, Sentinel safe.anywhere, which can make calls, send text messages and emails to emergency contacts in one click. The app’s feature list includes tracking, which means that your emergency contacts will be able to see your location, travel history and the direction you were travelling in. Its alert button automatically calls your contact five seconds after you press it. During tests, we got a call almost instantly from a US number, which mentioned my name and location (with pin code and a landmark) to an emergency contact. Email alerts comprise the same details and an email is sent every time you switch on alert mode or return to safe mode in the app. To cancel an alert or to end it, users need to enter a passcode.
Another safety app developed in India, Aucupa’s iFollow uses a unique method to activate its safety features. Users need to shake their phone for five seconds to activate the app. One can save up to three contacts. iFollow will first try to call the first of these three contacts. If there is no response, the app sends an SMS with your location to all three. The app literally follows you and sends messages to your contacts every time your location changes by more than 10 metres. Users can set the sensitivity level, but if you set it too high, a slight shake of the handset can trigger the app’s emergency mode. So make sure to use the app a few times and set shake sensitivity to a comfortable level.
Uber, iOS, Android
US-based luxury cab service Uber is now available in Delhi and Bangalore. It lets you hire a luxury cab (Audi A6, BMW 3- and 5-series, Toyota Camry) for Rs 20 per km and Rs 2 per minute (minimum fare Rs 200). A credit card is mandatory for payment. The app stores card details and automatically charges when you reach the destination.