Walking alone can be a scary experience, especially late at night or in unfamiliar territory. People, especially women, have developed tricks to improve their sense of security- keys wedged between fingers, pretend conversations on the phone, texts to loved ones with estimated time of arrivals. But how helpful are these methods? What if they make you more distracted and therefore an easier target? Finally, there’s a practical app for walking alone. And it’s promising safety measure for many college students, city dwellers, nervous roommates and parents.
The Companion App crosses in both a GPS and social functionality. First, walkers set a destination. Then, they can select companions from their contact list. So these are real friends and family members, rather than safety patrol people or services. Push notifications sound when the person walking alone requests companions and reaches the destination. Companions can track the person walking alone on their route until they reach their destination. If the walker feels threatened or safe in any way, they can mark that they feel nervous. Or, they can directly reach police dispatchers from the app, in the case of an emergency. But more often than not, the Companion App will help lonely walkers come home safely.
The app is practical in more ways than one. For example, companions don’t need to download the Companion app to help their friend or family member. They can still act as a companion without the app. The second is the design. Notice anything familiar about the app interface? The second screen, which requests companions, replicates Snapchat’s display. This familiarity makes the app intuitive, especially for college students (the same demographic in which the idea for the app originated). Additionally, the map is borrowed from Apple Maps. It’s not a morbid app with features that look scary and difficult to use. Instead it’s familiar. The design isn’t alarming. It won’t make people feel like they’re overreacting, but simply using an app to improve their lives. It will become a part of normal mobile activity, fixing safety issues rather than boredom.
Users already are suggesting great improvements to the app- like activating the camera when the police are alerted so evidence can be collected from the phone. What do you think about the Companion App? Comment and share!