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A closer look at Life360’s Live Advisor service

Live Advisor Life360Millions of people rely on the free Life360 app due to keep track of their families and increase their lines of communication.

About three years ago, Life360 introduced their 24/7 Live Advisor program, as a part of its Premium plan. Recognizing the role Life360 plays in many families lives, they wanted to go to the next level and really support families in their times of need.

Live Advisor is the ultimate lifeline for everyone in your Circle. With just one press on the Live Advisor button, you are automatically connected to a Live Advisor.

Immediately, the Live Advisor can help you with:

  • PERSONAL EMERGENCIES: Auto accidents, Auto breakdowns/roadside needs, Medical assistance, Missing family members
  • SEVERE WEATHER AND NATURAL DISASTERS: Tornados, Hurricanes, Floods, Thunderstorms, Landslides, Earthquakes, Tsunamis
  • OTHER EMERGENCY SITUATIONS: Major power outages, Hazardous material breaches, Terrorist Events

Yes, even terrorist events, though hopefully, this situation is less likely to occur. Have you been in an emergency situation before where you’re just not sure who to call first? Or perhaps you call your husband or wife right away and they don’t answer? And as Murphy’s Law would have it, your cellphone is about to lose its battery power?

I wanted to learn more about the Live Advisor program so I talked with Jenn Yettke, Customer Support Manager at Life360. She told me that they receive 100 calls a day through their Live Advisor support center, though a number of them are app support calls on using the LIfe360 app.

Jenn told me a number of actual stories that Live Advisors assisted customers with. Here are a few…

Lost Phone One customer lost his phone on the side of the highway, a Live Advisor was able to use the satellite view on the application to guide the customer and locate the missing phone.

Needed Tow Truck Assistance One customer was stuck in the middle of the dessert and he was unable to find a location to send a tow truck. The customer used the Live Advisor feature and with the assistance of the mapping system, Life360 was able to locate him and send out a tow truck to get him assistance.

The Live Advisor call center teamRunaway Daughter A customer’s minor daughter had run away and was being located to a certain location before her phone lost connection. We helped identify the nearest location to her last known address and the customer was then able to figure out where she was from there.

Wow, what great stories. In my conversation with Jenn I realized more innately how tremendous a resource the Life Advisor button is…and it’s right at our fingertips.

How Life360 Could Help You Imagine how Live Advisor could help your family….

    1. Say you’re running errands and are late to pick up your daughter from high school. Your phone is about to die. Knowing your daughter may not have her phone turned on yet, you call Life360 and they can advise your daughter that you’re on your way and let her know how far away you are.
    2. Your son gets in a car crash. He’s OK, but the car isn’t and the person he crashed into isn’t so happy. Your son can call Live Advisor to notify the people in his family Circle what has happened and the Live Advisor can contact members of his family Circle to come to his aid as he talks to the angry driver.
    3. Your daughter has night classes at college and is always a little nervous walking around at night. She could call the Live Advisor to “walk” with her until she reaches her car safely.
    4. Your elderly parent loves to walk but over the last several months you’ve noticed she is not as mentally clear as she once was. As long as she has her phone with her, she can press the Life Advisor button to get assistance on making her way back home.
    5. You’ve been watching a fire in the hills near your home. Now it’s time to evacuate. You can call Live Advisor to notify your family or friends within your Circle to give them an update so you can focus on getting out safely.
    6. Your husband is driving home from work and runs out of gas. He can call Live Advisor to send a tow truck to assist him.

Live Advisor is just one of the benefits of upgrading to the Premium version. Other benefits include:

  • Unlimited location updates for non-smartphones
  • Unlimited Places
  • $100 in stolen phone protection
  • Expanded History data – great for keeping track of your teens

You can upgrade to Premium for $5/mo or $50/year (2 months free). Live Advisor can give you and your children extra peace of mind and instant aid in the time of need. It’s your lifeline…or your back-up plan. Either way, you’re covered.

Introducing the new Notification Center, your family’s daily activity feed

check in feedYour phone chimes with a Life360 notification, but you don’t get a chance to read it before it clears itself off the screen; you open the app, knowing that there’s a notification for you… somewhere.

Tapping through several Circles to figure out who is checking in or sending a message, the frustration mounts as you click through trying to find this most recent update.

We get it, and we’re really excited to share with you how we’ve improved it.

This may seem like a small change to some, but it’s a big deal for us. The notifications you receive from Life360 come from the most important people in your life, so we wanted to make sure you have a simple and easy way to get them.

Our new Notification Center shows an at-a-glance feed of your family’s daily activities and real-time alerts so you can seamlessly stay connected to the most important people in your life. Now notifications of activities and check-ins are shared in a centralized activity feed. Cool, right?

Whether it’s knowing a child has arrived safely to school or seeing that a spouse has left the office, families who receive Place Alerts, Check-ins and Messages will now be able to view them all in a single feed within the app, and can message one another directly from the alert.

We have an exciting benefit for iOS 8 users, who can now receive alerts when you are not in the app. Our new Today widget and interactive notifications bring the family to your phone’s home screen by providing alerts directly to the home screen along with the ability to message other members in a seamless experience.

From our CEO and co-founder, Chris Hulls: “The new notification center is another step towards becoming the hub for the family by providing a single feed to view the family activity throughout the day, helping us simplify the chaos of family life in a world of omnipresent connected devices,” said Chris Hulls, CEO and Founder of Life360. “From communication and coordination to the Connected car and Smart Home, Life360 is working to tackle all of these things and rethink how to make the day-to-day easier and more convenient for today’s connected family.”

place alert notifications

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new Notification Center in the comments below!

Emergency, emergency!

As the mother of two kids who have medical needs via chronic, life-long conditions I feel a little smug when I tell you I know when and when not to go to the pharmacy clinic, the pediatrician, urgent care center, or the emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Our goal, because the kids are susceptible to catch other illness because of forced immune suppression, is to keep the kids out of any kind of medical office, most especially the emergency room (with a double especially during cold and flu season) if at all possible. That isn’t to say that we don’t have our share of visits. We probably go 8-12 times a year to a clinic or ER and as we look at our historical data, I’m here to tell you it’s usually on vacation or Sunday evening or a holiday. I wish I were kidding. My kids and husband are nodding yes and rolling their eyes right now.

When I was at the hospital with my daughter recently, my fellow Life360 Ambassadors were sending messages through the app and when I checked in on everyone, I noticed the hospitals and clinics . Since our last few ER visits were when we were in our home town, we went to our regular hospital emergency room. I’d forgotten how comforting that was to know the hospital function was in the app, especially since we sometimes have to visit hospitals while on vacation.

A couple of summers ago, we received an urgent call from our son’s care team, who would have admitted him that hour had we been in our home town. Unfortunately we were 400 miles south, at a beach store buying flip-flops. At the time, I didn’t have the app, but now, I haven’t really thought about how terrifying it was to be far from home from our care center when learning we’d need a large city hospital. I’m comforted to know the app now shows me where to go.

There’s a life cycle of treatment of care and it usually goes something like this:

“Should I call the pediatrician?”

“Let me just run him by the clinic.”

“Urgent care is open until 9, and they have an x-ray machine.”

“We’ll end up at the E.R. anyway so let’s just start there.”

Sure, there’s a lot in between those statements that can happen. Persistent (and worsening) symptoms, lethargic (always an E.R. trip or 911 call), bug bite looking sores (outline red area around bite with pen and write the time that you circled it to see if it’s growing), uncontrolled vomiting, causing dehydration and more…in my book, all reasons to go to the emergency room.

You get the idea. Here’s the thing I’ve learned after 100s of appointments for healthcare with the kid; listen to your gut. If your intuition can be skewed (like mine sometimes)and you aren’t sure if you should take your kid in, it’d be good to call an experienced parent, or always check in with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician expects to get calls from frantic parents about the littlest and biggest things. It’s what they do. Don’t be afraid to call and seek out treatment. Now let’s hope you don’t need to look for that little red and white cross on the Life360 app anytime soon. Or preferably never.

“Server Gymnastics”

infrastructure teamServer Gymnastics

Thank you again for your patience over the last few days as we managed unexpected server maintenance. Our team worked tirelessly all weekend as large banks of servers were taken offline to have software updates run, and then brought back online, something our team calls server gymnastics.

We realize that you rely on us to keep your family connected and we did our best to minimize the user impact, but some things were beyond our control. The good news is we should be back up to 100% very soon. While we have our main servers and backup servers, when even one of them goes offline it can cause issues with update lags, server connections, and general app functionality and that was what you experienced.

If you would like to read more about this EC2 reboot, this post over at ZDNet will give you more information about what exactly was going on, and why we experienced these issues.

We’re at the tail end of it now, and again, we are so very appreciative of you, our users for your patience as we get through this.

New Rules for Internet Safety and Your Kids

online securityLately my husband and I  have a nightly ritual of looking up our daughter’s search history and laughing over it. The searches range from Disney cruises to second grade British boys. But kids and online safety are no joking matter.

The two golden rules of keeping your kids safe online have always been:

  1. Set time limits on screen time
  2. Keep your kids in sight

Which are great rules and we still live by them but they don’t really take into account how much the internet has evolved. Now technology is an integral part of many kids’ days both at school and at home. My daughters do everything from math work to writing online and when they are done, they are allowed to use search engines. And they’re seven.

And at home, kids have the internet in their hands on tablets and phones. It’s almost impossible to  fully monitor what your kids are doing online unless you restrict their access to technology completely.

Yeah right!

So here is a new rule: talk to your kids about what they see and do online.  You can utilize measures like SafeSearch but also take time to explain that there is information both true and false online and that you or another trusted adult is always there for questions.

Like my husband and I do, look at your kids’ search history and the apps they use the most (you can see usage history on most cell phones.) Use it as a jumping off point for discussion rather than a way to monitor them.  If your kids are older, this is a great guide for talking to them about being online.

Now that you’ve resolved to be all touchy feely about what your kids are doing online, don’t forget the nitty gritty. Just like you teach your kids not to cross the street without looking both ways, teach them the basics of being online:

  • No personal information online and let an adult know if someone is asking
  • What you put online stays there forever (yes, even on Snapchat)
  • Never give out your password (except to your parents of course)
  • Log out of apps and sites every time you are done

Once you’ve gotten your ducks in a row, sit down with your kids and sign a parent-child tech agreement. Remind them that access to this technology is a privilege and will be taken away if not used properly. And that goes for offline use as well; I am looking at you kid playing Angry Birds while riding your bike. Next time I see you, I am making a citizen’s arrest.

4 Apps to WOW your Instagram Photos

4 Apps to Wow Your Instagram Photos MainLove Instagram? Do you often get frustrated when you take a beautiful picture, and can only fit in a fraction of the picture in your Instagram post? Have you seen those great pics where people created a matrix of several pictures, complete with caption? Wish there were more options?

Here are 4 super fun Instagram apps to complement the beautiful Instagram posts you have in your mind’s eye that you’ve been dying to share.

1. InstaSize Android iPhone FREE

Instasize

With the InstaSize app, you don’t even need to go into Instagram to post. You can add titles, stickers, backgrounds, and a collage of several pictures…and they all fit into your Instagram post without cropping! Love this app!

2. PicFrame Android | iPhone | Blackberry 99¢

PicFrame

PicFrame is similar to InstaSize, but even more robust, allowing you to add up to 9 photos, videos, or text in a collage and includes 73 fully adjustable frames, effects, shapes, backgrounds, and more!

3. Everlapse iPhone FREE

Everlaps helps you to create interesting flipbooks with your photos. Add a bunch of pictures and you can show time lapses, a quick slideshow, or even create an Instagram Top 20 Highlights – which automatically takes your top rated Instagram photos and makes a flipbook. See my Instagram Highlights here.

4. Split Lens iPhone FREE

SplitLens

Split Lens allows you to create photo collages also but you can choose the collage type first, than shoot your pic live into each individual picture for the collage. You can then individually adjust each picture, adding filters and moving it around in the frame so it’s just right. It’s easy to share on multiple platforms, in addition to Instagram.

Any one of these apps can add some extra zest and excitement to your Instagram portfolio. And these apps just scratch the surface; there are a ton of Instagram-related apps available on all mobile platforms. Craving more Instagram apps? Here’s a bunch more! And don’t forget to follow @Life360App on Instagram to get peeks of what’s happening in our offices!

Getting a new Note 4? A gift for you, from Samsung and Life360

Life360 is thrilled to announce that we have been chosen by Samsung as a Galaxy Gifts partner for the new Galaxy Note 4 device! What does this mean for you?

galaxy gifts life360 announcement

When you purchase a new Note 4, you’ll find Life360 as a part of the Galaxy Gifts program, which will give you six months of our Premium service upgrade for free! This means you’ll have access to a 24/7 Live Advisor, roadside assistance, unlimited use of Places, expanded location history, $100 in stolen phone protection, and location lookups for non-smartphones.

galaxy gifts life360 screen

“We are proud to have been selected by Samsung as a Galaxy Gifts partner for the Galaxy Note 4 device,” said Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360. “On the heels of our international expansion and our focus on growth in new markets, expanding our relationship with Samsung through this integration complements our overall growth efforts and will help us engage millions of new families on our platform.”

We’re excited to welcome new Note 4 owners to the Life360 family.

Will you be getting a new Samsung Galaxy Note 4?

Back-to-School? What? 

life360It’s like summer just started and we were basking in the our goals of having more fun, keeping our kids busy and off screens, hitting vacations, and kicking our kids outside to enjoy the sunshine. Now, we’re checking and double-checking to see when the first day of school is for our kids. Well, I am checking anyway.
I’m in Georgia and we start school before the tail end of summer. I am not telling you a story! We typically go back the second week in August. I know, I know, we get out of school in May but we go back to school when community pools are still open. I was thinking about all the things I had to do to get the kids ready for school. More importantly, I was thinking about what I have to do to get them (and myself) ready for school!
  • Back up bedtime. A week before back up bedtime and wake time. I know I am not too jazzed about getting up at 5:45 so we’re going to ease into it. Start 8:30 and back it up slowly over the week.
  • Rotate the clothes… see which pieces fit, clean out what doest fit, and shop a couple of thrift stores for some mix and match pieces or buy at full price at an expensive mall and send them to a thrift store next year.
  • Get a backpack. My son uses a huge backpack meant for swimmers because he apparently does not believe in using a locker at school and he will use last year’s but the girl needs a new one. So, get a great, not expensive backpack. Which I am sure I will order from online after much searching RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes for a new one. Better yet, check RetailMeNot when you buy anything online, ever.
  • Be flexible, within your routine. We’re a family of routine. Well, myself and my son thrive in routine, so I make the entire family think they need a routine. We really work hard the first week of school carving out a routine for us including all we have to do, with a little flexibility in there so we don’t make ourselves feel too structured we can’t enjoy something that comes along after school because we’re tied to homework between 3:45 – 5:00.
  • Get those supplies. I used to get the kids’ supplies on my own but for the past few years, I’ve made the kids go with me. No reason why they can enjoy running all over, in the heat of summer, to find supplies are on backorder.
  • Relax. Don’t freakout or be tense about the first day of school because kids are really intuitive and play off of our emotions.
  • Be the parent who takes THOSE photos. I regret not taking the same positioned photos each year with my kids on their first day of school. If you’re kids are still little, start that. My teenagers look at with nothing but serious annoyance when I pull out the “real” camera, and just mild annoyance when I pull out the phone camera.
  • Bring your teacher a treat. A note to wish them luck this year and to thank them for being a teacher? A little fruit and yogurt? A Starbucks gift card?
  • Bring a good attitude. I’ve found this extremely helpful.
I hope you have until after Labor Day for the first day of school. Either way, I hope you have a smooth transition back into reality. Let’s all take a deep breath..we can do it, together.

Don’t forget to enter our Back to School Instagram contest! Just follow @life360app, then share your back to school photos and tag them with #Life360BTS! We’ll randomly choose a winner (on 8/29/14) to win a $100 Amazon gift card!

Turn phone photos into summer memories

photos into memoriesJudging by the aisles at Target, the back to school countdown is on and summer is winding down. Like most of you, my phone’s camera roll is full of summer memories. This year I have resolved to not let them linger there. Join me?

Here are five fun ways to use your phone photos!

1. Posters from Prinstagram: The gold standard of Instagram printing, Prinstagram turns your pics (you can use non-Instagram photos too) into a 200 image poster. What a fun way to not only remember your summer, but to decorate your walls (the prints fit into standard size frames.)

2. Magnets: Go on a virtual vacation anytime you grab something from the fridge with photo magnets. For $15 (including shipping,) Sticky9 turns nine of your favorite summer Instagram shots into magnets.

3. Postcards: If you kid is missing their camp friends, cheer him or her up by having phone pics turned into postcards. Postagram lets you take any phone photo, add a message, and turn it into a postcard for a $1. THe recipient is able to punch out the photo.

4. Projecto Instagram Projector: Slides are not a dead art form with this tiny INstagram photo projector. For only $35 (including shipping) you can pick nine photos and turn them into a tiny reel. The projector attached to a keychain you so can bore your friends with vacation photos at will.

5. Groovebook: Why stop at summer? Save your memories from every season with this clever subscription service. For $3 a month, you get a book of 100 of your phone books. You can keep them in the book or punch them out for framing.

10 Apps for a Better Summer

summer appsIt’s tempting to take a tech break during the summer. But don’t put down your smartphone just yet. Here are ten apps that will help you have a better summer! (And of course, we’ve left Life360 off this time around, but it’s a great solution for road trips, vacations, and amusement parks!)

  1. Weber’s on the Grill: Go beyond the steaks and marinated chicken breasts with this app. It contains more than 300 class Weber recipes. save your favorites, create shopping lists, and email favorites. Includes recipes from celebrity chefs as well as how to videos.  Android and IOS
  2.  Project Noah: When it’s hot outside, it can be tough to get kids excited about hiking, camping, and even being outdoor. This app turns the user into a citizen scientist. Upload pictures of flora, fauna, and animals and then tag with details. Not sure what it is? The community will help you figure it out. Android and IOS
  3. EWG Skin Deep : The environmental working Group created this app to help guide your skincare choices. This app helps you pick a sunscreen that not only protects you from the sun but is also healthy for your skin. Android and IOS
  4. Next Issue: You will need your tablet for this one but it’s worth the extra space in your bag. This app gives you access to hundreds of magazines for one low price. Perfect for pool side reading. Try it for free with a thirty day trial. Android and IOS.
  5. Forecast.io: This web app (you can install it on your phone as well) goes beyond the temperature to show you humidity. PLus it shows you when it will be overcast and drizzly rather than outright storming. Perfect for when you want a shady and cooler day at the pool or beach.
  6. Groovebook: In an ideal world, you could share your summer with all of your family and friends. Groovebook gives them the next best thing. For $2.99 a month (including shipping and handling,)this app prints up to 100 of your phone photos in a 4.5×6.5 photobook. The photos are perforated for easy removal. Android and IOS.
  7. WaterIn: Keep hydrated in the summer heat with this app. You set the amount you are aiming to drink and then it reminds you when it’s time to take a sip. IOS only.
  8. Field Trip App: This cool location-based app will alert you when there are cool or interesting things nearby! It’s a great way to explore if you’re in your own town, or to find interesting things when you’re away from home. Android and iOS.
  9. Gasbuddy:  The gold standard of gas apps. When the gas prices soar along with the heat, use this app to find the cheapest gas. To really be a gas saving ninja, use it in conjunction with Fuelcaster, which will tell you when the cheapest day and time to fill up is. Available on Android, IOS, Windows, and Blackberry.
  10. Back to School Countdown: Parents will appreciate this one. When you are at the end of the rope, install this customizable back to school countdown and know exactly how long you have until your darlings are entertained by someone besides you.

Got summer apps you love? Share them in the comments so we can all have a better summer.