Monday, October 5, 2015

A social network and safety app for families

10/05/2015

Gizmo Editor Review:

A few years ago, I set up a website for our family. We used it to share news and photos, swap questions and comments, schedule group events and generally keep in touch with each other.

The site worked well for a while, but it required too much manual input. And it fell into disuse when everyone started spending less time with their computers and more with their mobile phones and tablets. We needed to move to a mobile-friendly platform like Family Orbit.

Family Orbit is an Android app that supports a restricted group of participants - like a family. The app is a useful tool for keeping track of other family members. When a child arrives at school or Mom arrives at her out-of-town business meeting, a check-in notice pops up on an Activity Wall where everyone can see it.

It uses GPS mapping to track and plot everyone’s location. And users can create Family Places such as a church, school or workplace so members can be notified automatically when another member arrives or leaves.

There are other safety features as well, such as a speed monitor, a seven-day history of a member’s location, and a geofence that notifies parents when a child goes beyond their established boundary. There’s a Panic Button that quickly sends an alert to all family members and another feature that lets children check which parent or guardian is nearby to request a pick up.

Family Orbit also provides a way to share photos with a limited group. Pictures that young people wouldn’t want to share on Facebook can be posted where only other family members will see them.

Like most parents, we had years of shuttling our kids to softball practice and scouting events. And later we fretting when we didn’t know where they were or how they were treating the family car. We survived those years, but they would have been a lot easier if we’d had Family Orbit.

The app is available for free in the Google Play Store. An iOS version is scheduled to be available soon. Family Orbit is also on Facebook and @myfamilyorbit on Twitter







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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.

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