Get blog posts into your mailbox

Subscribe to the Blog

“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.

 

SXSW was saved by Life360

kristi at sxswIt seems like South by Southwest (SXSW) was just yesterday. In reality, it was back in March. I had just been notified that I was part of the Blog Ambassadorship with Life360 days before I arrived in Austin.  What I didn’t expect to see where three brand new electric BMW i3 cars rolling around with the Life360 logo on them.  Life360 partnered up with BMW to bring a safe ride experience to a select few of the VIPs and Executives roaming around the tech portion of the conference. Luckily, my friend Robert Scoble who is the Startup Liaison Officer for Rackspace, was one of the chosen few for the cars.

By hooking up your smartphone to the car’s interface screen, the Life360 app popped up on the large screen. We were able to see where all of our friends were and it made it easier on the driver to map out a course to pick everyone up. The i3 looks small from the outside, but it is oh so roomy on the inside. We were able at times to get five people in this car!

We made a few Circles within the app while at SXSW. One was just used by Robert Scoble and the rest of the Life360 team to schedule rides and manage everyone. Then there was a Circle of our friends so we could see what venue everyone was at. There were quite a few messages going back and forth about the cool things we saw on the streets (it was SXSW after all!) or where we might be enjoying some grub and a cold craft brew.

A few times I lost my friends in the massive conference center and I would pop open the app and I navigate myself right to them. It was awesome!! I am a talker so there were many times when the guys would continue on to our destination and I would use the app to catch up. Life360 saved me from having to play the phone game of – Where are you? Where is that? What is that by?

On the way to an after party, I jumped into a cab with my friends as the Life360 cars were busy. Everything was great until I realized that my phone had slipped out of my pocket. I logged into the Life360 console online and watched as my phone took a ride all over Austin!  That GPS tracking feature is no joke! The cab company refused to give it back even though I could tell them the exact address of where it was. All weekend I watched my phone have some serious SXSW fun until the battery died. Bye bye my little phone friend, you were missed. 

I hope Life360 partners up with other conferences not only for this unique way to transport guests, because it makes staying connected to your friends and colleagues so much easier. For me, SXSW was saved by Life360 and I couldn’t possibly fathom going to another conference without this app. Oh, and those cars – they picked us up in the middle of the night on more than one occasion. Lifesavers, really!

Life360 goes with your family wherever you go thanks to Android Wear™

life360_mapThis week we’re excited to announce another step into the wearable space, with Android Wear. This is an exciting move for us, that allows us to help families stay connected not only through their smart phones on Windows Phone, iOS and Android, but also allows us to engage with wearable devices that run on Android Wear.

What this means for Life360 users on an Android wearable is that with the flick of the wrist they will be able to take advantage of innovative, new voice features to say things like, “start Life360” and the app will open. Once open, users can see where everyone in the family is located, and click on the specific family member to navigate directly to them. Users will also automatically receive card notifications when family members arrive to designated places like work, school or home, making it easier for busy families to stay connected throughout the day, without the friction of multiple text messages or phone calls. life360_place_alert

At Life360 our goal is to be the hub for today’s connected family across all connected devices and family assets such as the home or car, and wearable devices present an exciting opportunity for us to reach beyond smart phones to a broader group of users. Android users make up a significant portion of our user base today, so we are excited to join Android Wear so users can continue to take us with them wherever they go.

Let us know what your family thinks of wearable devices like smart watches and fitness trackers!

Our Kids’ Intuition

Just as I was blogging last time about giving some freedom and in fact forcing my kids to leave the house this summer, there’s something that happened to my 12-year-old daughter that has me reassessing that freedom.

Last week she was walking alone to meet her BFF at our pool, something she started doing last summer and again this summer. It’s a freedom I love for her to have and something I encourage. On this day I pulled up in the car when she was leaving and she waved goodbye, smiling that she just texted me that she was going to the pool. “Do you want a ride?” I said. She shook her head no and bounced off in shorts with her backpack, as tweens do, holding her phone with probably a headset in blaring the music of none other than One Direction, or “1D” for us hipper parents.

A little bit after seeing my girl leave our driveway, I get a text that says, “When I was walking to the pool this car stopped right next to me and he screamed “get in” so I started running and he soon just drove by me.”

I gulped, my heart stopped and I could only think of wanting to be with her.

I got in the car and drove up to the pool to hear the story of the man in a white, sporty car, who drove by her slowly and she noticed. She said she “got a gut feeling something was wrong” when the car slowed, enough for her to turn her head to find him parked for at least five or ten seconds. He then backed up onto another street to drive towards her where he slowed or stopped (she didn’t remember which) and yelled at her to “GET IN!” and she took off running and then he took off driving past her. We went through the proper channels of filing a report and have since been interviewed by detectives and our local new stations to share our story because my daughter isn’t the only one approached, apparently.

news story

How can we talk to our kids about their intuition?

  1. Talk to them often about their “gut feeling” or intuition. I think intuition is largely squelched out of us by the time we’re adults. If we don’t talk about it when they’re kids, it’ll be harder to recognize in themselves.
  2. Talk about certain circumstances in which intuition might come into play… stranger situations, friends or family member in trouble, when they are alone at parties etc., or even in group situations with people they know.
  3. Talk about what a “gut feeling” feels like. To my daughter, she said she got immediately “nervous” and “scared” and she didn’t know it, but it was a feeling of vulnerability.
  4. Talk about not fighting the gut feeling and staying in danger. Talk about how it doesn’t matter if feelings are hurt, even with adults. Adults will understand if they are protecting themselves and if they don’t, oh well.

I am, obviously, grateful my daughter’s intuition served her well. I hope this never happens again to her, but this experience has been a reminder that while our kids seek their independence (and she will walk alone again) maybe we can help them by talking about their intuition or “gut feelings” and how they can serve them well.