I love my daughter to the extent that it’s probably a weakness in certain circumstances. If I ever were to lose her, well, I’m not sure I would be okay. That’s why family locator apps can be essential. You need to know that your family is safe at all times.
Odds are that if you have teenagers, they are probably already carrying around an electronic tracking device at all times. In fact, you may wish they’d put it down and engage with the world around them more.
I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m talking about their smart phone. Androids already have the capability; all you need is an app. However, with so many apps available it’s hard to know which one is right for you. That’s why we’ve assembled the 11 best family locator apps for Android.
Glympse works on any web-enabled device. Offer or request a glimpse into others’ or your own whereabouts. The app user does get a say in who gets to see his or her information and for how long. You can share this information via text, email, or social network.
So if you want to broadcast location and ETA, the choice is yours. The major downside is that the location notifications aren’t automatic and location can’t be freely accessed by other family members, so it requires your kids to remember to send you updates every so often, and you can’t track them in real time.
Family Locator – GPS Tracker
The world can be a scary place. Predators, hurricanes–any number of people or circumstances can tear your family apart. Also known as Life360, Family Locator – GPS Tracker allows you to create your own group of people who matter most, and offer the option to track them in real-time. Family Locator can be set up to notify you when someone checks in at a certain location, like school or work. This can be handy for keeping track of more forgetful family members, since it sends the notification automatically rather than relying on them to remember.
You can plot the location of your connections on a map, but it does allows those connections (and you) to control who can find him or her. A private chat is also provided, where you can exchange text messages or photos. Life360 Family Locator can also be used to track down your Android if it gets lost. Additional safety features include driving safety tips and a Crash Detection service.
Life360 Family Locator is one the most stable family locator apps for Android.
Download: Family Locator – GPS Tracker
Find My Friends
This app is now available on Android, and is for friends or family members. Its primary usage is viewing their location. Find My Friends is different than the identically named iOS app, using Google Maps to provide its plotted mapping. The map also shows fire departments, police stations, and hospitals by default, which allows kids to find someone else who can help them if their parents aren’t around.
Find My Friends could potentially come to your aid in an emergency with its option to broadcast your own whereabouts. It also provides a forum for messaging. Find My Friends is free, but you do have the option to try a free trial and then upgrade to the premium version. For a monthly fee of about $5, the app will also offer a more detailed location history, provide services even when your phone isn’t a smartphone, and roadside assistance.
Download: Find My Friends
Foursquare Swarm: Check In
If you want an app that will appeal to your kids instead of making them feel resentful, this could be it. Similar to Foursquare City, Swarm allows you to compete for points by checking into places.
You could turn racking up points into a family game or offer incentives for earning points in order to get your kids to participate. Kids may also like that they can use Swarm to message friends that check in at a location, provided that those friends also have the app.
The downside is that there’s no real-time tracking, and that the emphasis of the app may shift more to your kids and their friends’ goals, rather than your own.
Sygic Family Locator
Sygic is a real-time family locator with some handy unique features.
If there is somewhere you specifically don’t want your child to go, you can set up an unsafe zone to be notified if your child infringes upon those boundaries. On the other hand, if your child gets lost all they have to do is press the SOS button to give you their precise location.
The premium version allows you to see location history for the past week, so you don’t have to constantly check your phone. It provides details such as full address, date, and time.
Download: Sygic Family Locator – Phone Tracker
Google + and Google Maps
Have an Android? Then you already have Google +. Google + is actually the successor to a location tracking app called Google Latitude. That app was accurate within a few yards, and so is Google +, which inherited this functionality.
Google took a lot of flak over privacy concerns with Latitude, and so the features are a bit subdued within Plus, and can be disabled. However, you can still use the Locations option within the menu to view your contacts on a map. Location sharing must be turned on. Additionally, Google + is conducive to easy categorization of your contacts.
Perhaps a more natural app for this same functionality is Google Maps, which recently announced that it will let you share your location. To do so, select your location (the blue dot), tap Get Started, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Download: Google +
Family Locator by ZoeMob
ZoeMob takes on a more holistic approach when it comes to your family—instead of focusing solely on location services, the app also strives to be your assistant when it comes to family communication, organization, and planning.
ZoeMob is going to offer the same location services we’ve been discussing, such as real-time location monitoring and history, but where it differs is in its addition features, such as allowing permissions for children (such as, “Is it cool if I play this game a little bit longer?”), a family calendar, and shared annotations.
The app even allows you to check nitty gritty details like whether your child (or their school bus driver) is going the speed limit. All the detail might drive some teenagers insane, but the extra planning and organization features that help keep everyone in the loop may be worth it.
Download: Family Locator & GPS Tracker by ZoeMob
Now let’s round out our list with some carrier specific options.
Verizon FamilyBase app provides directions to your loved ones’ current locations. This is handy whether you have to respond to an emergency or simply need to pick them up somewhere you aren’t familiar with.
While the app itself is free, it’s designed for Verizon subscribers who have paid for the Family Locator Service, which is not terribly cheap. It does stand out from the other apps we’ve discussed thus far in that it offers many parental control features, including content controls.
Download: Verizon FamilyBase
Sprint Family Locator
The Sprint Family Locator plan will locate up to four phones, perform check-ins by default, offers text and website support, and time stamping, all without even requiring that you download its app. Downsides include the limit on devices, a lack of accuracy at times, and a cost of around $6.00/month after your free trial ends.
Download: Sprint Family Locator
T-Mobile Family Locator
T-Mobile offers a free check-in app, with a premium version for $10/month. Unless you truly need all the extra perks – which you can try during a 30-day trial – the free version will suffice.
The paid version does seek to make the process more fun and less of a chore for your kids, with options like emoticons, but that might be more effective for younger children than teenagers.
Download: T-Mobile FamilyWhere
AT&T Family Locator
AT&T offers a trial and subsequent price identical to that of T-Mobile’s with 30 days for free, then $10/month for up to 10 lines. AT&T’s plan is available on any device. It provides scheduled check-ins, a map of safe places, and easy correspondence by text or email. You can add contacts, as well as the places they frequent.
This is one of the best family locator apps, but it doesn’t come cheap. You may, however, find that your peace of mind is worth it.
Download: AT&T FamilyMap
The best app is the one that fits your family. Which ones have worked well for you and in what circumstances? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.