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Simplifying life with a teenager and a spouse who travels

medium_263909727When Life360 reached out to me about being an ambassador, I didn’t hesitate saying yes. I’m the parent of a 13 year old with a lot of afterschool activities and a husband whose work frequently takes him away from home.

Why Life360? It’s pretty simple. I don’t have to ask “Where are you?” or text “Will you check in with me?” Not that I’m a helicopter parent, but when it’s been an extended period of time and I’ve not heard from them, I can check on my family and go about my business.

Life360 is especially helpful when commuting. While traffic in the Charlotte region is not like other large metropolitan areas, if there is an accident, the interstate will shut down with very few exits and backups for miles on end. Since my husband gets home at a certain time, if he’s more than 15 minutes late, I grab my phone and check Life360. This is preferable for both of us. He hates receiving calls in the car and I don’t like talking on the phone while I’m in the car as it’s a huge factor in distracted driving accidents.

We’re most looking forward to using Life360 for is my upcoming travel. I’m in the middle of writing a book which is going to see me traveling thousands of miles for research and interviews. Sometimes my family will be me, but most of the time I’ll be solo road tripping. Not only will I be on the road, but I’ll be in places I’m not familiar with and my phone will be a huge distraction. While there are other tools I use to send text messages back to people who are calling or texting me, my primary use for Life360 is so others in my Circles can see where I am.

An added bonus with the premium plan is the 24/7 Live Advisor who can direct emergency responders to your exact location. For the amount of miles I’m going to be ticking off on my Honda Accord, this, to me, is an essential added feature. There’s also emergency roadside assistance. Which means I’m now double covered on the road.

For me, Life360 was a good choice when thinking about what I’m doing professionally. I use it in conjunction with other great travel tools and feel more secure and confident while on the road. That’s something we all can get behind.

Photo credit: lasgalletas cc

Using my smart watch to keep tabs on family.

galaxy gear life360Having not worn a watch for many years, wearing the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch took some getting used to. But now it’s indispensable. Yes, I can check the time, be alerted of incoming texts, take and make phone calls on it, and even take pictures and video on it.

But recently, one app has become available on the Galaxy Gear that has proved to be an incredible convenience. I downloaded the Life 360 app onto my smartphone and absolutely love it.

husband life360

Is he OK?

Life360 has been a great app to keep tabs on my family. My husband is a Deacon at our church and once a month they have a meeting at church that can run late…really late. With Life360, I can check on my phone to know where he is. But now with the Life360 app on my Galaxy Gear smartwatch, I don’t have to get up to go to my phone. I can just check my watch. Love it!

quick notes life360

Quick Notes

The Quick Notes feature is so handy. I have experienced a number of times where I would love to send my husband a status quick note before I began driving, but I don’t want to take the time. Now, I can just pull up Quick Notes and select “On my Way” or Running late” to alert him of my status. Love it!

check in panic life360

Check-in/Panic

Life 360 updates my family members every so often, but sometimes it helps to give it some extra help. I like that I can check-in on my Galaxy Gear so that when I travel, my husband will know that I arrived to my destination safely. No need to text. I can also click the Panic button to alert my husband of any scary situation I may be in.

live advisor life360

Live Advisor

Now this is cool. With the Premium version of Life360, you have immediate access to a live person…right on your wrist. Calling the Live Advisor can get me help with medical emergencies, auto accidents, help with a tow truck, missing family members, and more.

If I’m in a crisis situation, the last thing I will think of is to grab my phone and open up my Life360 app. But with the app on my wrist, I can get help immediately. And better yet, the Live Advisor will have my exact GPS tracking info. and can provide my location to emergency personnel, tow trucks, etc.

The free Galaxy Gear app shows me that Life360 is committed to innovative ways to help you keep track of your family in convenient ways to make your life a little smoother. You can find the Life360 Galaxy Gear app here.

Family travel with Life360

Hi there! So pleased have an ambassadorship with Life360. Even though my career as a blogger and writer is all about technology, my personal life is rather Luddite-ish. I am not one of those people who lives and breathes apps, using one for grocery shopping and another for meal planning. Rather, I like to get in and get out (so to speak) when it comes to my personal smart phone. The exception for me is Life360. My blog’s tagline is “doing it all; some of it well” and Life360 is one of those tools that helps me do things well. I look forward to sharing the ways I use it as well as other tips on simplifying your life with tech.

Even though our twins, who are only seven, are too young for smart phones. We use Life360 as a way of keeping track of them when we can’t be with them. Take the girls and I’s recent trip to my home state of Texas. The recovery from the ten hour drive has been rough. But wow was it great to slough off responsibility and only worry about myself for a bit.

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Well a parent never really stops worrying do they? To put my mind at ease I lojacked my parents with Life360. So for every spoiling trip to the toy store, third fro-yo trip of the day, and late bedtime I was along for the ride. And yes I realize that sounds a little creepy.

But if you can’t stalk your family, who can you stalk? And it came in handy when I didn’t want my kids stalking me. Even in a big city like Dallas, we tend to run in the same small circle of town. So it was useful to know to wait a few minutes before heading into the store. And I could hide my own location in case my parents were tempted to hand off the terror twins. There was no tagging in on this trip!

Now that I am back home, I no longer need to track my parents (ha! I bet I am one of the few Life360 users who is using it that way!) But honestly, it’s tempting to still circle them in and see what they have been up to. And oh, I don’t know, maybe message them to pick me up some peppermint Jo-Jo’s when I see that they are at Trader Joe’s.

It’s good to have my stalking ways out in the open. And now that I have confessed, I am looking forward to talking about the everyday ways Life360 simplifies family communication. Because when my husband and I are not stalking our parents, that’s how we get stuff done these days. Looking forward to going into detail next month!

Introducing Life360’s 2014 Blog Ambassadors

I am excited to introduce the first generation of Life360 blog ambassadors! This is a group of bloggers who will be providing content for you here, on our blog, and they will also be sharing exciting Life360 updates on their own blogs.

These ladies have been chosen for specific reasons; they each bring their own unique voice and experiences and will be sharing them with you in the coming months. They’ll be talking more than just tech; from family communication, to easy recipes, to general parenting tips, they’ve got lots of exciting content to come!

These are some great writers and lovely people, and we are thrilled to be working with them and having them share their words here… their posts will be starting later this week, so be sure to keep an eye on here and on our Facebook page to stay in the loop/

So without further ado, please meet the bloggers!

anneAnne Parris is a tired mother of four and perhaps the world’s worst part-time vegan. She is one of the founders of Midlife Boulevard, an on-line magazine for women in midlife. Also, she writes on her own blog Not A Supermom, a rather typical mom blog about parenting, laundry, and tricking her kids into eating vegetables.

 

 

 

Lori

Lori is a Family Digital Lifestyle expert and the founder of the Well Connected Mom. The WellConnectedMom reviews and discusses a myriad of technology products to find those which relate most to day’s families. An avid technology lover from her youth (can you say ATARI and Commodore 64?), Lori continues to delve into the latest and greatest technologies for families. Self-dubbed the “touchscreen Queen,” Lori investigates touchscreens from phones to computers to wearables and more to help navigate families through the abundance of devices on the market. Lori has a master’s degree from University of Southern California (USC) in Communications Management (Technology) and a BS from University of California Riverside in Business (marketing). She worked for Nestle USA for twelve years in sales, brand marketing, IT, and e-business marketing consulting before having children and deciding to work out of her home.

 

lisaLisa M. Frame is a whirling dervish based in Charlotte, NC. Blogging since 2002, she’s seen pretty much everything in the blogging world, and you’ll currently find her at A Daily Pinch. Lisa is an experienced community manager who specializes in building brand voice for digital properties. A wife and mother fueled by coffee and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Lisa is currently working on a book about women and Southern culture.

 

 

 

kristiKristi Trimmer is a full-time travel and fitness blogger at KristiTrimmer.com. One day she packed up her car and started the #GirlOnTheRun adventure traveling for 202 Days over 38 States and ran 10 Half Marathons. Kristi is currently on a trek to Alaska running along the way as she blog about fitness tech, eating soy free, and enjoying good craft beers and yummy wines. She uses Life360 so her family can know where she is at in the world at all times.

 

 

kateKate Canterbury has been online since the day of list servs. And kind of misses them. You can find her writing about technology, food, beer, and her twins on her blog The Guavalicious Life. Find her on EVERY social media outlet possible posting under the nom de plume guavalicious. She doesn’t like guavas.

 

 

 

 

kadiKadi Prescott, founder of Social Media Moms and mother of seven, began connecting with other parents online (what is now known as social media,) back in 2001. Three years later, Kadi decided to start sharing her parenting journey via a public blog, Our Seven Seeds. This quickly became an obsession for her; a way to feel not so alone as a very young, sleep deprived, unsure mom of many. Her once very lonely life as a stay at home mom, blossomed into a world of connection, socialization and friendship. Thanks to a little Blogspot address, Kadi had found her purpose and her people. Over the past 13 years, she has served many roles within social media, from speaker and blogging mentor, to brand ambassador and community manager. Kadi feels fortunate to have had some great mentors in the marketing industry. From both their guidance and her own experiences, she learned how to marry traditional marketing with social media. Although Kadi works mainly on the B2B side of things these days, creating social marketing strategy, she still loves to share her parenting stories because she feels that it is important for other moms to know that it is okay not to fit the June Cleaver mold.

 

JuliaJulia Roberts married into the name. In case you didn’t know, (the famous) Julia Roberts will not call your establishment to make her appointment. A geneticist’s dream,she and husband Julian (yeah, she knows, it’s a bit much for them too) produced two cute kids with a (super) rare syndrome that includes a vision disorder and kidney and liver diseases. She and Julian live in Atlanta, and own a marketing firm together. Learning to laugh at her life and their kids – which the grandparents find especially annoying – has helped her survive. That and Diet Coke. She runs Support for Special Needs And blogged for nine years at Kidneys & Eyes, before shutting it down. You can find her on twitter as @juliaroberts1 and TheOtherJuliaRoberts.com.

 

JenJen Lee Reeves is the Founder of Born Just Right, a community that focuses on supporting families of children born with limb differences. She is also a social communications strategist and trainer for a large non-profit. She has two children, 8-year-old Jordan and 12-year-old Cameron. She recently allowed Cam to use a phone but only if he has the @Life360 app so she has peace of mind when she travels for work. Jen is also married to a television news manager and they all love taking care of their new puppy, Bailey.

 

 

Heidi

Heidi Leder chronicles family travel adventures and technology experiences at Coast To Coast Mom and is formerly the editor of Techlicious Moms, a technology lifestyle site for women. Heidi is a leading source for kids’ and family-friendly focused technology and has contributed to segments on the Katie Couric Show along with appearing on the tech channel of the Today Show website, and has appeared on and moderated panels about women and technology. When she’s not writing, she consults on consumer tech outreach, including hosting in-person, virtual, and online technology workshops for women across the country, and has been a brand ambassador for several major consumer electronics companies. Heidi is a former Silicon Valley PR pro, and was one of PR News’ “15 under 30 to Watch.” Heidi was raised in Michigan, has lived in Silicon Valley, Chicago, and finally in the NYC area, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

robyn

Robyn Wright has been a geek and foodie for as long as she can remember. Starting in the early 90s she was online and has had various websites over the years. Her current blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, was started in 2008. Robyn passed along her geek qualities to her son, 19, who was raised in a digital world. Along with writing on her own blog, Robyn writes for several other blogs and works with major technology and food brands. You should also note that Robyn loves garlic and is easily amused!

Updating to iOS 7.1 – Step-by-Step

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Happily, the recent release of Apple’s iOS 7.1 update has addressed some of the location issues that were introduced with iOS 7 last fall.

Here is a step-by-step guide ofr how to update your iPhone, if you haven’t already.

Find the “Settings” option on your phone.

update1 Once you’re in “Settings,” tap “General”

update2 You’ll see “Software Update” as one of the options there.

update3

If you have not yet updated to iOS 7.1, it will look like this. If you’ve already updated, it will instead say “iOS 7.1 Your software is up to date.”

update4Tap the update to install it. And you’re done!

Life360 Sponsors “Pitch a VC” Contest

Headed to Austin next week? Have an awesome startup or an idea you’d like to pitch to a VC? Well here’s your chance. We’re offering 10 lucky entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime in Austin: 15 minutes, one-on-one, with a well-known VC in the back of a sporty new BMW i3 (these cars haven’t even hit the US market yet!) where you can check out the connected car of the future as you sell your idea.

Forget pitching your story in a crowded room with hundreds of other startups or a loud bar where you can’t be heard. We’re giving you the chance to personally connect with dealmakers like:

  • Dave McClure, 500 Startups

  • Christine Herron, Director at Intel Capital

  • Ethan Kurzweil, Partner at Bessemer Ventures

  • Christian Noske, BMWi Ventures

  • Mark Platshon, BMWi Ventures

  • Ryan Swagar, Venture51

Life360 and BMW are bringing a fleet of the cars to Austin, March 7 – 11, to showcase a preview of the Life360 app integrated in-dash. A private chauffeur will do the driving so you can focus on what really matters… your pitch! Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 12.14.29 PM

Got an idea to sell?

To enter, follow @Life360 on Twitter and then Tweet @Life360 and @BMWiUSA with the hashtag #PitchaVC. Get creative – short vids, a link to your blog, a photo – whatever best helps you tell us what makes your startup shine (we know you’ve only got 140 characters).

Rules and Regs

Pitches must be in by 11:59 PM PT on Wednesday, March 5. We’ll select up to 10 winners on Wednesday, March 6 and notify you via a Twitter DM. All “Pitch a VC” meetings in Austin will take place between March 8th and 9th. Just so you know, no purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the sweepstakes but you can read all the legal mumbo jumbo our attorneys make us post. Good luck and see you in Austin!

Our new iOS7 version is here! Life360 version 6.0.2 is live!

photo (4)Hi everyone! We’re so excited to let you know that a new version of the app is live in the App Store!

Version 6.0.2 addresses many of the issues that came up with iOS7:

  • Improved location experience for iOS7! We’re working hard to clear up issues introduced by Apple’s software update.
  • Smarter notifications and troubleshooting: Especially for disconnected devices, we’re providing better information on why family members are not connected, and how to get them back.
  • More than a dozen bug fixes around history, Premium access and more!

To be very clear, Life360 will not work on iPhones unless the app is left running in the background and location services are turned on. This is not a bug within Life360 — this is due to a structural change within iOS7, which fundamentally changed the way apps like ours work. Unless Apple rolls back or makes new changes to its system, we will not be able to get locations for iPhone users unless these two criteria are met.

We would also like to thank everyone who has been so patient while we worked on these fixes… we appreciate you, and we know it’s been a frustrating month since the operating system came out.

We are available on Twitter, Facebook or our support forums if you need further assistance.

Thanks again, you guys are awesome!

The Kids Are Gonna Be Alright

moving vanThis summer my family and I moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta. The move may have been our longest, but it wasn’t our first. I can remember the sheer panic that I felt when my daughter was little and we moved a few short miles away from the only home she had ever known. I asked myself all sorts of questions: how will she adjust, will our new place feel like home and should we send her with her grandparents or keep her with us while we move all the stuff?

In short: always send the kids with someone else while you move. I couldn’t imagine having a then five-year-old with us between dressers and mirrors and what felt like an avalanche of boxes. Of course it’s doable, but if you can heave-ho.

We made sure that the absolute first thing we did was get our daughter’s room setup: our friends went from moving furniture to dipping paint brushes in “Buzz Lightyear Blue” and rolling the stuff onto her bedroom walls. While it dried, all of us went about tending to the rest of the house. The next morning, and after the paint was dry, I hung clothes and pictures, arranged stuffed animals and pulled the sheets tight.

When our daughter pulled up with Grandmom, she was thrilled. A blue room with stars and her name on the wall in glittery purple letters? Oh yeah, she loved it.

It turns out that I had needlessly panicked.

After six years, another paint change and two furniture re-arrangements later, it was time for Atlanta. This move brought its own set of challenges; mainly the 16-hour drive. Ugh. But now our daughter was ten and really understood that moving meant a complete change: a new school, friends, house, and way of life. Despite knowing that my motherly panic was unnecessary before, I went ahead and did it all over again. How would she adjust? Would she want to go back “home?”  What if she never made a friend? Would the kids be cruel to the new kid?

Of course she fit right in to her new way of life and she did it with fewer complaints than the bona fide adults she gets to call Mom and Dad. See we – that would be me and her father—took to complaining to each other about the food, our inability to find anything, and the unrealistic expectation that a bunch of magical fairies would come and remove all the boxes and put our things away while we slept. Our daughter took everything in stride and made the most out of our move while we spent our time getting familiar with a new zip code.

That’s the thing about our kids; they always surprise us even when we know they’re just wonderful, mini versions of the best we have to offer. Our daughter still hasn’t complained or looked back or second-guessed. Every morning she puts one foot in front of the other and rubs the sleep from her eyes while grasping for her favorite cereal; just like she did before. After she’s done and dressed, she walks out the door ready to conquer the best day ever.

Post by Liz Henry | Image credit: Claudia Dagget

 

30 Fall Things to Do as a Family

fall leaves1 (1)There’s a good chance that fall is your family’s favorite season. It’s a time to get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures by heading to the pumpkin patch, giving thanks around the table and snuggling into the depths of your couch with a sweater and some hot coca. At a loss for what to do when the falling leaves turn from a trickle into a tumble and the weekends arrive and you have nothing planned? Here are 30 things to do this fall as a family.

  1. Bake cookies (they don’t have to be from scratch) and deliver them to your neighbors in jazzed up Pringles cans. [Source]
  2. Go apple picking at a local farm.
  3. Make a sidewalk chalk portrait for your holiday card. [Source]
  4. Every first weekend, Bank of America offers free admission to select museums around the country for card holders. [Source]
  5. Check your downtown art museum for pay-what-you-wish admission.
  6. Here’s 30 easy Halloween treats kids can make like a vampire bagel bite. [Source]
  7. Go bowling.
  8. Instead of lemonade, host an apple cider stand. And donate your earnings to charity.
  9. Make a ghost refrigerator. [Source]
  10. Have a family rubber ducky race in a shallow creek near your home.
  11. Dedicate Fridays to “Fort Fridays” by making a fort and popping in a DVD and munching on popcorn.
  12. Gather sticks, affix tiny labels and make a “giving thanks” tree. [Source]
  13. Live near an airport? Hop on the hood of the car or pop the hatch of the minivan and check out the airplanes arriving and departing.
  14. Grab a blindfold and play a round of “blind makeup” by letting the blindfolded person be the makeup artist. Now, switch.
  15. Play “tourist” for a day and do the things that tourists would do in your downtown: take a carriage ride, explore the historical treasures and take loads of pictures.
  16. Go on a ghost tour. Here’s how to do it for free in select city cities. [Source]
  17. Make outdoor Halloween luminaries using brown lunch bags. [Source]
  18. Be a secret inspiration by leaving “positive affirmation” cards like “be the change you seek” in library books or taped to a mirror in a public restrooms, etc.
  19. Jump in that leaf pile already!
  20. Bake some chocolate chip banana bread. Oh my. [Source]
  21. Wow the classroom party with the easiest mini Frankenstein cups using Jell-O, a Sharpie and crumbled Oreos. [Source]
  22. If you live on the coasts, go whale or dolphin watching.
  23. Grab the kids and toilet paper dad’s car while he’s sleeping. Let him know “mummy” did it. Heh.
  24. Play flashlight tag.
  25. Create a family command center. Here’s 20 ideas. [Source]
  26. Hit a thrift store and find hidden gems and re-purpose them as a family.
  27. Make art out of melted crayons. [Source]
  28. If you have a fire pit or a microwave, make some ‘smores and enjoy them outside with ghost stories.
  29. Get started on the holidays with these 25 handmade gifts under $5. [Source]
  30. Of course: you went to the pumpkin patch via hayride, right? Cool! Now, paint one pumpkin with black chalkboard paint and countdown the days to Halloween or Thanksgiving.

And most importantly, have fun out there!

Post by Liz Henry | Image credit: Ed Schipul

An important note for Life360 iOS7 users from our CEO

A letter from Chris Hulls, to our iOS7 users:

Hi there,

I’m Life360’s co-founder and CEO, and I’m reaching out to you because either you or a family member are running Life360 on iOS7.

Since iOS7 was released, location updates have become unreliable for some users. This is unfortunately due to changes outside of our control. However, we are working with Apple to fix the major problems, and our team has been working around the clock to find solutions for others.

We have found that the majority of users who are having problems with iOS7 are experiencing them from intentional system changes made by Apple, not Life360 bugs. To keep location working properly, it is critical that you:

#1: Make sure all family members leave Life360 running in the background

taskbar

If a family member “kills” Life360 by double tapping on the home button and removing the app from the tray, their location will not automatically update again until they manually restart the application.

#2 Check that everyone in your family has Background App Refresh and Location Services turned on

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If you or a family member turns either of these settings off, Life360 will not be able update locations.

I would like to personally assure you that stability is a top priority for Life360 and we hope to release a new, improved version to you soon.

We appreciate your patience while we work out these iOS7 kinks.

If you have any questions, feel free to send me a note directly at chrishulls@life360.com

Thank you,

Chris