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Guardly Turns iPhone into Personal Security Guard

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A new app launching today provides a single-tap, multi-target alert system for your iPhone or iPod touch. Guardly automatically alerts contacts of your choosing if you feel you’re in danger or have reason to quickly and easily alert a group of people to your location and current situation.

With the free version, you’ll be limited to just creating groups and assigning contacts to them. These could include friends in your immediate geographical area, for instance, or maybe a special selection of friends and relatives who know your medical history and allergies. You can send alerts (phone, email and SMS text) to these groups of contacts with one click from within the app, but in order to get the full Guardly experience you have to pay up for either a monthly ($9.99) or a yearly subscription ($99.99), which you can do through in-app purchase. Remember that Apple sees 30 percent of that revenue, but Guardly seems more than willing to pay in order to use iOS as a platform for distributing its subscription-based, software-as-a-service offering, something I anticipated as a possible trend following Apple’s introductions of in-app subscriptions.

Subscribing also adds the ability to call 911 with a single tap of the app’s icon from the homescreen (after a brief countdown in case of accidental presses). Auto-alerts can also be set to send to any other emergency contact of your choosing, too. Other premium features include in-app conference calling with your group of responders, the ability share map views and instant messages with your contacts in real time, real-time location tracking and the ability to share photos you take with your device with your emergency contacts.

Guardly is also smart about how and when it calls emergency numbers. It will detect any network failures and automatically call once a signal is reestablished, and it detects your current country using location services and automatically dials the correct emergency number based on that info. The app also offers a loud siren that can be activated in case of emergency.

This is an incredibly sophisticated app that makes amazing use of the iPhone’s built-in capabilities to provide as comprehensive a personal safety solution as you can find in an app. It even sets up your Guardly app’s outgoing caller ID to be that of your iPhone, making it much easier for emergency services and contacts to track you down should you fail to actually get through.

Guardly doesn’t offer much in the free version of its app, but it provides such a polished, thorough experience from beginning to end in terms of app functionality that I won’t be surprised to see people eager to sign up for paid Guardly subscriptions. A SaaS model will also help ensure that the app has a consistent, sustainable revenue stream, which should go a long way towards ensuring the lights don’t go out at a company that many may come to depend on as a personal security resource.

I’m reminded of the emergency call buttons posted at lamposts around campus at colleges and universities when I think of Guardly, only the app model works better because it’s available everywhere and seldom leaves your person. I’m actually surprised more smartphones don’t offer more of this sort of thing as a built-in option, but I expect to see more similar solutions pop up from all sources now that Guardly is making waves.

3 Responses to “Guardly Turns iPhone into Personal Security Guard”

  1. Perhaps I should have used Guardly before I commented on it. I have now. It’s a bit more clumsy to set up than I’d have thought for an app people might be using when they’re in a panic. Anyone who uses it needs to carefully set it up in advance and keep the numbers up to date. In a pinch, you don’t want to be using it for anything but the default service.

    It’d also help if there was a test mode that’d contact friends (and dial a non-911 number) with a ‘this is a test’ message. It’s something that we have to know work right the first time and triggering a fake emergency to test that isn’t a good option. I work in emergency communications and we have to take care to add “This is a drill” to all our simulations. This app needs something similar.

    That said, for triggering a pre-programmed emergency call, it’s fine. Tap the app and you get a quick countdown to an emergency call. And I commend them for having a very excellent scheme for confirming that the personal number you give them is actually your number. Skype should take note.

    That said, attempting to set it up was frustrating, especially when my sister’s address book listing didn’t have her email address. Even when I added that and resynched my iPhone, Guardly kept insisting that now-present address was missing. I had to work around that (adding a different person and then coming back to her). I’m not sure all their users could figure that out.

    For the other use I suggested, the much more common need to send a reassuring message to a group after something happens or perhaps a situation where you need to alert a group to a crisis, it comes up short. This app with the premium service should be great in an ‘they’re out to get me’ emergency (pictures, siren, GPS location, and all) and a lot of people will find it worthwhile for that. But it doesn’t seem to be for situations that fall short of the ‘get me 911 now’ level of importance.

    For that, we need a different app, one that offers a list of groups and allows you to send that group a message you enter via SMS or email. Even when an emergency leaves you unharmed, you may not have time to compose and send a lot of message or make multiple phone calls.

  2. The free version is almost a must-have. It should be great in emergency situations such as earthquakes or even for what’s known in the trade as a ‘mass casualty incident’ such as a fire or explosion. When something happens that might cause friends and family to fret, simply pop it open and send a brief, reassuring ‘I’m OK’ message. SMS messages can often get through when cellular voice is overloaded or towers are down. All SMS needs is a brief instant of availability.

    I know. When I first heard of the Japanese quake, I emailed a friend in Tokyo to see if she was OK. My email got through without a hitch, but she said the city’s cellular phone system was swamped with calls. For people like her who are cellular-only, that means they’re cut off from outside contact, often for hours after a catastrophe.

  3. I think a much better, quicker and simpler solution is the Help Call App ( Who cares about all these features if all one needs is to quickly place an emergency call.