October 31, 2011, 5:27 PM — Admittedly this blog post will have a short shelf life, but it gives you a great head start for next Halloween!
The Los Angeles Times (via the Charlotte Observer) offers parents of trick-or-treaters tips on useful location-tracking apps for keeping the kids safe on this spooky annual event.
The first two, Google Latitude and Lookout, are free.
Latitude allows users to share their locations with selected family and friends. It stores your location history (which is not shared with anyone) and can be used as a standalone app or as an opt-in feature of Google Maps. There are versions of Latitude for Apple mobile devices, Android-powered gadgets and BlackBerries.
Lookout wasn't designed as a person-tracking app; it was created to help people find their lost smartphones or, failing that, at least lock down their data. The way to adapt it to Halloween duty, the Times explains, is to download "the app onto your child's phone, log in online, click on the "missing device" tab, and locate the phone - and your child." Lookout works on iPhones, iPads, Androids and BlackBerries.
Now for the paid apps.
Footprints is available only for iPhones, iPods and iPads. It requires users to download the app on both the parents' phones and the children's (or the trackees). This also means a paid subscription for each download, which is $4.99 each for two years, $2.99 for one year, 99 cents for three months and free for two months.
Maybe Android users can't use Footprints, but iPhone users won't be able to use Trick or Tracker, which is available only for Android smartphones. Like Footprints, this app requires downloads to parent and child phones. Some syncing up is necessary and parents can choose how frequently they'd like to get updates. Two cool extra features of Trick or Tracker include a "where's my parent?" button to help kids know where mom and/or dad are, and a "digital fence" that parents can set to prevent their costumed children from straying too far. Trick or Tracker is $4.99 per download.
Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.