I recently made the switch to Android from iOS, which has gone relatively smooth. Apple had a few apps that kept me on iOS for years; iMessage, Airdrop, and Find my Friends. The Find my Friends app allowed me to send and see the location of family members or even close friends. Why I haven’t found a replacement for iMessage or Airdrop yet, I’ve been turned onto Life360 which promises to be a tracking app and a community tool.
I know it may sound creepy or excessive to track a loved one whether it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend wife, husband, or child. I used Find my Friends with my girlfriend to see when she’s on her way home from work so I can start dinner, decide to finally clean up, or to get ready to go out to eat. She uses it in a similar way when I’m out. It’s not a lack of trust, but a way to see if the errands are going smoothly or as a way to determine if they’ve made it somewhere. I also used the app with my parents as a way for them to see whether I’m at home, at work, or out and about. It also works great when I want to drop by unannounced, and I’m able to see if they’re home or away. So I’m not always checking these tracking apps, but instead using them periodically.
Now that I’m no longer on iOS, I’m the odd one out in a family of iPhone’s. Luckily, trying to get someone to install one app that doesn’t need you to upend your life is easier than I thought. I managed to get both my parents and my girlfriend to install Life360. It’s been my replacement for Find my Friends, and quite honestly, it’s a better app with more functions and features.
iOS vs. Android Battery
The app has both an Android and iOS app, but the iOS app doesn’t work as well as the Android version. A lot of this has to do with how the phone uses GPS, Wifi, and location accuracy to track the phone. On an Android handset you’re able to change the settings to high accuracy to use GPS and Wifi at all times, but with iOS, there aren’t similar settings.
This means on iOS the location history isn’t as accurate, and when you arrive or leave a predetermined location, the notifications can take a little to send. This is all done on iOS to save battery life, which is done. Android handsets will consume more battery with this app, but it’s a small percentage that won’t affect your overall daily usage. The battery drain is so small you only see 1% in most cases, but if you use drive detection, there can be a larger battery drain.
The newest feature for Life360 is drive detection which does what the name says; detects when your driving, and at the end of the drive gives a report of top speed, drive duration, gives a map of the drive, and with paid upgrades can say if you stopped abruptly or even had an accident. The paid upgraded is $6.99 a month, which is inexpensive considering you get all of that plus roadside assistance, which many times can cost $10 to $20 a month with an insurance company. The feature is perfect for parents who have a newly minted driver, and want to see if they’re driving at high speeds or making sudden stops.
When there is an accident detected, and you’re subscribed to the paid plan, an alert is sent to your friends and family about the accident. A representative from the app also gives you a call to check if it’s an accident and will send emergency help to your location. While I haven’t used the feature, luckily, I have questions on whether it’s accurate and how well the accident detection works.
The downside of the beta feature is it can be a significant battery drain. While this isn’t a big issue for many, it can kill a battery if your driving for an hour or more. I’ve seen my battery drop 30% in one drive, but I’ve gotten in the habit of plugging my phone while I drive.
Notification arriving and leaving locations
In the app you’re able to set locations notifications when someone arrives home, leaves work, or arrives at the grocery store. I have these geofences setup for when I leave or arrive home and when I arrive or leave work, and my girlfriend does the same. You’re able to set two free locations, and if you need more, you can upgrade to the Plus plan.
It’s a great way to automate the app, and still keep everyone checked in. It helps from everyone asking “did you make it to work?” or even “Are you home?” There is also a way to check into different locations so you won’t be left asking “where are you?” So a great way to check in at work, at a restaurant, or around town.
The downside to the app is how they push their paid features constantly via a monthly subscription. I understand the developers and the company need to make money, and that placing the upgrade button everywhere will help conversations, but I don’t always want to see the need to upgrade. While it isn’t a constant in your face pop up, when you hit the paid features you are always asked to upgrade.
Life360 is the best alternative to Apple’s Find my Friends; there are more features, and you’re able to have anyone join whether they’re on an iPhone or Android phone. While a lot of the advanced features are hidden behind a paywall, the free ones will still get the job done. All-in-all, if you’re looking to keep tabs on a teenager, this is a must have, but also can be used for an occasional check in.
I’ve gotten my family on the app, and reference locations from time to time, but I also use the drive detection so in the case of an accident I can alert my family. Life360 is committed to keeping your family safe and connected, which is more than Find my Friends on iOS can say. I know your family or friends might not be appealing to everyone, but one day we might all do it, and Life360 might be at the forefront of this tracking.
Tell us in the comments below if you use a tracking app or if you use Life360!