Family app Life360 launches premium version that emphasizes safety

There’s a good deal of focus on family-oriented social networks right now, including apps like Path or neighborhood-focused sites like Nextdoor. But Life360 CEO Chris Hulls, who is launching the company’s premium features this week, thinks he has the better approach — and the user numbers and traction to back it up.

Life360 Family Map - iPhoneWhile Life360 might not get as much attention as a deliberately limited social network app like Path, it boasts more than 30 million registered users — not bad considering Path just hit 6 million registered users, and Nextdoor declines to provide specific user numbers. However, none of the companies, including Life360, have elected to disclose active user numbers.

The premium version of the app will include a few safety-oriented features for $5 a month or $50 per year. The company provided full details on what the premium plan includes:

“In addition to in-app features like being able to set up unlimited Places (Life360’s geo-fencing feature) and view an expanded family location history, Life360 Premium also offers helpful features like 24/7 Live Advisor. Simply push the Live Advisor button in-app and you will instantly be connected to a real person who can see your location, dispatch roadside assistance, coordinate a locksmith, call a taxi for your unruly teenager and more. Life360 Premium also enables users to locate up to six non-smartphones for free and provides stolen phone protection in the amount of $100, which you can put towards your next phone if your current one is stolen and not able to be located using Life360.”

The company raised a $3.5 million Series A funding round back in December 2011. Life360 creates a communication and geo-location app for use by families, but don’t call it a child-tracking app:

“There’s a misperception that we’re a child-tracker. We’re much more of a family communication tool,” Hulls said. “And we like to avoid connotations of being a safety app.”

But in reality, the app, which came out of an Android developer challenge back in 2008, does all of these things. It allows you to track family members by their location, set up safety alerts, and communicate quickly with other people in both emergency and daily situations.

“We think that the real family network is not a social network at all. It’s much more of a utility network. We are trying to be the app that’s used on a daily basis,” Hulls said. “We are a little bit snarky to people we call the Facebook juniors. People who say, ‘Oh, Facebook worked, so let’s do the same things with a newsfeed and photo-sharing for family sharing.'”

My colleague Kevin Fitchard wrote earlier this month about a recent investment in the company by BMW that will lead to the two working to develop an in-car tracking solution, and Hulls said he’s passionate about taking the company further than your smartphone:

“We don’t want to be limited to the phone long-term,” he said. “We really do envision ourselves as having a much broader reach than just an app. If in a few years we’re just an app, then I think we’ve failed.”