Over the past couple of years, we've seen many iterations on the personal safety app, but the gist has always remained the same: choose a few persons you trust to share your location with all the time, or at least when you feel the need or they request it. Now Google is releasing its own official take on the matter, Trusted Contacts, and part of me is wishing this app or its functionality at least becomes integrated in all Android phones from now on.
EMERGENCY came to Android more than 3 years ago in March of 2013. Back then, the Xperia Z was the hottest phone on the block, the Galaxy S4 was starting its pre-orders, and Holo was the coolest design language we could imagine. But EMERGENCY was rather well received thanks to its replay value. With 13 disaster scenarios and 18 units under your command, you could manage your resources differently to try to save as much lives and fight as many terrorists as you could, and thus control the situation better and faster.
The game has seen several updates on Android since its release, though none in the past 8 or so months.
You may be wary of making your location available to apps and services on Android, but that uneasiness goes away in an emergency situation. If you call emergency services, you want them to know exactly where you are, and now Android has the tools to make that happen. Well, if you live in the UK or Estonia. Those are the first two countries with support for the new Emergency Location Service.
Shortly after ISIS-affiliated gunmen killed over a hundred people in multiple attacks in Paris on Friday evening, Google allowed users of its Hangouts chat platform to make free VOIP calls to France from anywhere. Later this weekend American telecom companies have followed suit. Carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are allowing their customers to call French telephone numbers without incurring international calling charges, and Skype is allowing free SkypeOut (VOIP-to-standard phone number) calls into France.
After a series of shootings and explosions occurred in Paris Friday evening, Google has made calls to France via its Hangouts service temporarily free. Callers can use the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, and the web to place calls to the country without incurring the normal international charges. The Google+ post making the announcement did not specify any particular countries, so presumably free calls are available from any location where Hangouts can be used. It's not clear if Google Voice users are also being given free calls.
This feature has taken us a long time to confirm, readers - sorry about that. Testing it would have required us to call 9-1-1 for the sole purpose of testing out a neat new tool on a smartphone, and aside from being extremely illegal, none of us wanted to explain to a hard-working emergency dispatcher that we were using a vital service to write up a blog post. And on that note, please, pleasedon't test out this feature on your own Android M preview build. We're only sharing a screenshot sent in to us by a reader which we assume was taken during an actual emergency.
Cheap USB car chargers are a dime a dozen, even ones with enough ports to charge two devices at once. But this dual-USB (2.1A + 1A) charger from Elivebuy stands out, and it's not because this is the fastest charger of the bunch. It caught our attention because it just might save your life, and it will do it for six bucks if you go to Amazon and enter the coupon code Q626JPAD at checkout.
The charger in question comes with a glass hammer that can be used to shatter windows during an emergency. It also comes with LED lights that can provide illumination in the darkness or serve as hazard warnings.
Most of the apps from the American Red Cross are intended for use during emergencies, but the organization's latest one, titled simply "Emergency," still manages to bring something new to the table. It consolidates all of your alerts in one place. So when some sort of weather event is going down and Google hasn't yet buzzed your phone, you know where to look.
Update: according to this post by Punit Soni, the app is indeed exclusive to the Moto E for the time being. Other Motorola phones (Moto G, Moto X, and the Droids) will get access to Alert at some point.
My grandmother is 76 years old, and I've finally convinced her that taking her ancient RAZR V3 cell phone on the tractor when she mows the pasture is a good idea. Not because she actually uses it, but because the thought of her having to walk across 80 acres of snake-infested coastal when something goes wrong is a sobering one. Motorola knows the practical use of a cell phone in an emergency, and is augmenting it with a new app.