Last updated 12/10/12
Find Better Locator
Free if everyone has an app,
otherwise $4.99/month for every non-smartphone
Bottom line: This is a free and a solid family tracker, despite finding that the Life360 service to be quite overwhelming. The map interface seems to have a lot going on, especially with locations of sex offenders all over the place. As I said before, this is alarming and often inaccurate, so I would prefer it not be there at all. The fact that the app can be uninstalled by each individual user also seems to make the service obsolete. Ideally, a location service should be one that cannot be deleted or disabled by individual users since teenagers would take full advantage of this.
Life360 is yet another one of the many apps available to help keep track of your family members through the use of GPS signals in cell phones. It is one of the more popular versions of family locator services and one that is favored by moms and dads across the globe.
Life360 is an family locator app that must be downloaded onto a phone to begin using it. Until recently, subscribers had to have a smartphone, such as an Android phone or iPhone, to use the service. As of mid 2011, the service has been available for users of any phone, including smartphones or regular phones as well. Life360 is also available on all carriers except MetroPCS. Smartphones send their location signal to Life360 via GPS and Wi-Fi data and regular phones send a signal directly through the carrier.
Set Up: Could be much easier!
Setting up Life360 on your phone is a bit more complicated and longer comparing to the other family locators. You simply downloaded the app and create an account with an email address. (If you do not have a smartphone, then seek another service like LociLoci.) Once the account is active on your phone, you will need to send “invitations” to each family member in order to add them to the Life360 service. After the invitation is received, the user will need to click on an Internet link and complete an online registration in order to begin to be located by Life360. The user will need the password you selected at set up in order to do this.
The fact that other family members need to “accept an invitation” is one of the many drawbacks of Life360. Your family members will know that they are being monitored and may simply delete the invitation text message. They may also delete the app at any time and disable WiFi and GPS to make it difficult for their phones to be tracked.
Ideally, an app such as this should function without needing to install an app on any phone on the account. This would make it more difficult for individual users to disable the service and would improve its accuracy.
User Interface: Not bad, but too cluttered map interface, especially on smartphones
The Life360 family locator interface is fairly simple to use and quite interactive. It also includes text and email messaging options similar to other location apps and services. On the other hand, the map interface itself seems distracting and quite bogged down by extras on the map.
Accuracy: 50/50 accuracy
When it comes to accuracy, Life360 is similar to many of the other location services. The service is about 50/50 when it comes to reliability. Accuracy depends on location and the size of the city the phones are located in. If you live in a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles or New York, your locations will be much more accurate than those who reside in rural areas. Having said that, even when my husband was in downtown Los Angeles, the service was delayed in providing me his real time location and seemed to be hours behind.
Features: Emergency centric, but with fake sex offender data
As far as other features are concerned, Life360 family locator has a free and premium option. The free version offers location service, utilizing GPS, cell tower and WiFi data to locate other phones on the account. It also features safety alerts. This means that family members can send emergency messages or alerts to the main phone on the account through data, text or voice in an emergency situation. Even if phone lines are down or busy, Life360 claims to be able to surpass this and get the message alert across. This is a feature that I’ve yet to be able to try during emergent, busy situations. I am hopeful that it would work but I am skeptical since most cell towers and phone lines tend to be down during most disasters and emergencies.
Other features with the free version include the ability to identify hospitals nearby and the sex offender locator feature.
Life360 is unique in that it gives the location of sex offenders in and around your current location. It does so with small orange icons on the map interface. Depending on where you are at, there may be multiple so called “sex offenders” in your area and, as we all know, this information is rarely accurate. This does not only take away from being able to easily see the location of your own family members but it is also alarming, especially since the information is not reliable.
A “check in” feature similar to those on social media sites is also available with the free service. If mom or dad want to know if their child has arrived safely, they can request a “Check in” via the service and the child will have to respond with a tap of a button.
The premium features include emergency identification and family identity protection. The emergency identification allows for you to set alerts for your children regarding specific preexisting medical conditions they may have. The family identity protection includes free credit reports and name removal from pre-approved credit offers.
Pricing: Free & Paid
The basic service is 100% free. The premium service costs $4.99 per month and does not offer a free trial nor a money back guarantee. This is most likely because there is ample time to try out the service by using the free plan first and then choosing to upgrade later if satisfied. Both the free and premium services allow you to track up to 5 phones.
Overall, I found the Life360 plan to be quite overwhelming. The map interface seems to have a lot going on, especially with locations of sex offenders all over the place. As I said before, this is alarming and often inaccurate, so I would prefer it not be there at all. The fact that the app can be uninstalled by each individual user also seems to make the service obsolete. Ideally, a location service should be one that cannot be deleted or disabled by individual users since teenagers would take full advantage of this.