Bonnie Tyler famously sang that in a tight pickle, she needed a hero to rescue her. I say the only thing you need is your iPhone.
In emergency situations, your phone is capable of so much. You can transmit your location via GPS to someone, hit the perpetrator over the head with the device, and even use your device to make “telephone calls”. Yes, it’s true.
After Vodafone Turkey brought out an app to help female domestic abuse victims, and a panic button app is available in the United States, your iPhone can be your saviour in tight spots.
Getting into violent confrontations is never the answer. Instead subtlety and subterfuge is called for.
Send Your Location To Someone
You’re walking along a dark street when you sense someone suspicious following you from behind. You feel imminent danger but there is nobody to call out to. So what do you do?
One thing you could do, which is subtle, would be to send details of your location to someone, via your Messages app. This is very easy to do, and if the other person has an iPhone too, the message should be free. If not, the other person would need a smartphone to be able to view the map on their screen.
WhatsApp recently rolled out a huge update for iOS devices, and as part of the update, you can now transmit maps and location information from Apple Maps using WhatsApp too.
Just go into Apple Maps (you’ll need GPS on), it will immediately find your location (a good argument for enabling GPS on your phone). Then at the top right, tap the square with the arrow pointing upwards. This brings up the sharing menu. Tap on Message or WhatsApp (other chat apps may also work).
This then brings up the message window with a miniature version of the map inside it, ready to be sent.
It might be a good idea to add some context for the recipient in the form of a message, then hit Send and wait for the cavalry to arrive. You should always call the police if you feel seriously threatened. Don’t take any chances.
What’s more, there’s a far, far easier way of doing this if you already have a conversation open with your recipient in your Messages app. Open the existing conversation on your phone (iMessage or regular old SMS), hit Details, then tap Send My Current Location.
Your location will then be embedded within a message and sent to your recipient. Don’t forget to tell them why you’re sending them this information!
Permanently Share Your Location
Sometimes it pays to track a loved one, and you can do this effortlessly via iMessage. While some might consider this “stalking,” the other person has to specifically switch the feature on, and can revoke it at any time. So, “permanently share” is a bit of a misnomer — the phrase that iMessage uses is “Share Indefinitely”.
To get to that screen, open an iMessage conversation, hit Details, and then Share My Location and choose whether to share for an hour, a day, or forever. Then if the worst happens and you go missing, provided you still have your iPhone on your person, you can be tracked.
This only works over the iMessage protocol, so the other person will need an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. They can see your location under the Details button within the conversation.
“Last Known Whereabouts” For Find My iPhone
If the worst happens and you forgot to permanently share your location, a relative can also use iCloud to see where your iPhone is pinging from. This assumes that you still have your phone on you. If you think you’re about to get jumped, then stuff the phone down your pants and you at least know you’re being tracked.
For this to work you will also need to have entrusted your iCloud details to someone. It may be a prudent investment on your future well-being to give the login details to someone you trust. They can obviously abuse this privilege to spy on your movements, so pick the person very carefully.
If you go off-grid, and you need to be urgently located, the trusted relative with the login details can go to iCloud.comand log in. From there you can select the “Find my iPhone” option, where you will find a green dot (good) indicating the phone is still pinging its location. If it is a grey dot (bad), it means the phone is offline, but you will still get the last known location before it switched off.
You can switch the map to Hybrid view or Satellite view, if that helps you get a better handle on the location (to see nearby landmarks for instance).
Other Apps That Can Help
There are some other apps which you might want to consider installing for your own personal safety. One of these may come in handy the next time you find yourself in an unwanted situation.
Some are free, some are not, but you shouldn’t immediately discard the paid ones. You can’t put a price on your life.
SEND HELP – Emergency SOS Button (free)
This free option is a good possibility. Just enter your pre-selected and carefully vetted contacts. Then if disaster is looming, press the “SEND HELP!” button to have an email or SMS to those contacts. You can even have a message with your location sent to your Facebook or Twitter wall for your contacts to see.
Simple but remarkably effective. If you ever find yourself in danger, a simple app like this could make all the difference.
SafeTrek – Hold Till Safe (free, subscription required)
At the time of writing, this has a full 5 star rating, with 1,174 ratings. So it looks like something you can rely on in a crunch. It even integrates with the Apple Watch.
If you feel threatened, open the app and press down on the provided button, until you can determine the extent of the problem. Then take your finger off the button . This starts a 10 second countdown, and you have those 10 seconds to enter a unique PIN code. Entering it successfully cancels everything and shuts down the app. If no PIN code is entered in those 10 seconds, then it is assumed that you are in trouble, and you are connected to the cops.
The app itself is free, but you need to purchase a subscription for the actual service. Prices start at $2.99 a month, charged to your iTunes account, with a seven-day free trial period to try it out first.
This really impressed me, mostly due to its sheer simplicity. This free app acts as a kind of “panic alarm,” except it runs silently and alerts a friend, without the bad guy (or girl) knowing that help is potentially on the way.
If you feel threatened, you hold your finger down on a button to record a live-stream video. You could record the voice, or the actual person if you feel safe enough to do so. The link to the video is then emailed to a pre-designated contact who receives a link to the video. When you want to stop the video, take your finger off the button.
The only downside that I can see is that if the person doesn’t check their emails often, they may not see the alerts in time. You could combine this with sharing your location via SMS for best results.
The most expensive of the lot, SafeSnapp helps you to gather the evidence needed to catch a perpetrator. It likes to look upon itself as “digital pepper spray” though really it’s all about taking photos.
The app works like this: in an emergency situation you point your phone toward trouble and take 3 quick photos. These are then sent to your email address and SafeSnapp’s own database in a matter of seconds. GPS location information and the exact time and date are also recorded and sent.
The idea here is to gather the proof you need to press charges following an incident. There’s also an element of prevention whereby if the wrongdoer knows their picture has been taken, they may choose to cut their losses and flee. Then again, they may see it as a direct challenge and break your nose.
It’s really important that you don’t endanger yourself in situations like this, so using SafeSnapp when you’re under direct threat is not advisable. However for certain situations, where you’re a bystander or find yourself in a situation where taking a photo won’t put you in further danger, it could be a useful tool.
Be Safe, Boys & Girls
It is never a bad thing to be over-cautious. If you ever find yourself in a threatening situation, be safe, notify the police, send your location and ask trusted contacts for help.