Thursday March 7, 2013
Smartphone apps to keep you safe
By MICHELLE TAM
Many iOS and Google Play apps can contribute towards improving your health and safety.
TYPE ‘safety’ in the Malaysian App Store, and your search will turn up nearly 1,500 apps.
With the popularity of security tracking apps that connect you directly to the police for emergency alerts (MyDistress) and those that entrust others with helping you stay safe (Watch Over Me), you can never have too many apps dedicated to your well-being.
A significant part of said well-being is also one’s health, and there are over 7,000 apps dedicated to this subject alone.
So whether you are concerned with a lonely walk back to your car, or puzzled over the polysyllabic ingredients in your store-bought food, here are five apps will make some day-to-day activities a little safer and healthier for all.
Alarms and Sirens! (From rawr, LLC)
When gripped by fear, it can be hard to even scream for help.
Focus on getting away from danger by drawing attention with the Alarms and Sirens! app, which you can use to deter would-be assailants when you sense the first sign of trouble.
The many sound effects include police sirens and air raid alarms, which you should put on repeat when in use. To amplify the sound when outdoors, cup the phone in your hands. If indoors, you can turn up the volume by placing it in a bowl, while making the necessary calls for help on your landline or another phone.
But be warned: if your phone has an Auto-Lock feature, then these alarms die down when the screen dims completely. So if you know you might be walking alone or travelling late, turn off said feature to save yourself the trouble of fiddling with it later.
Malaysia Most Wanted (from Terato Tech)
Saw a sinister face that you can’t quite place? Or a child that seems ill at ease with their supposed guardians?
Don’t ignore your gut instincts, as it now easier than ever to help alert the police to the whereabouts of criminals and missing children.
The app’s database with details of both the wanted and the missing can help you confirm your suspicions if you see anything amiss. Developed using information from the Royal Malaysian Police Force website, the available filters are Gender and State for quicker searches.
Users can also share the information via e-mail, on Facebook (a most useful tool to get the word out quickly), or even tap the Call Police option to immediately connect to an emergency line upon sighting.
Your speedy action might save yours or someone else’s life, and every little bit helps towards making our streets safer for all.
CSPI Chemical Cuisine (From EchoDitto Inc)
You have read of possibly harmful additives present in our food, but it can be hard to remember everything that should be avoided.
So if you have no idea what Thiamine Mononitrate or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate means – both ingredients on a packet of cookies and crackers – just input their names in this handy app to find out if it’s safe to consume.
A quick search reveals the former to be plain old Vitamin B1, while the latter is a dough conditioner that strengthens bread dough for a more uniform grain and greater volume. No danger there!
The app also provides a Safety Rating section that separates additives according to the Safe, Cut Back, Avoid, and Caution categories, with an extra section detailing additives that could pose problems for people with health issues.
With a better understanding of ingredient lists, you can make better choices when grocery shopping and minimise your intake of harmful additives.
GotoAID First Aid Lite (From Jaargon Ltd)
Despite being a free app, this comprehensive First Aid guide is quite full-featured.
Start with the I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) section, and be as detailed as possible about your health issues. Note down your blood type, allergies, medications and more: these will help people provide you the aid you need.
There are illustrated guides that clearly demonstrate how to cope with almost everything from acute asthma attacks to bruised ribs. Instructional videos are also available for some simple procedures such as proper glove removal.
Of course, emergency services must be contacted first and foremost to ensure professional help is on the way while aid is administered to a person in need.
Free, iOS/Android; full version, US$4.99
Malaysia Hotlines (From Terato Tech)
If you have ever regretted not saving an important hotline, or had no internet access to Google up a number when you needed it most, worry no more.
With this app, you can find everything from embassy to emergency numbers in times of danger or distress, and dial up those digits within the app itself.
Also available are other handy categories such as transportation, local authorities, and hospital hotlines.
Ingredient Watch (free, iOS/Android) will pull up reports on ingredients in your health and beauty products, effectively helping you decide whether that cleanser or shampoo will do you more harm than good.
World UV (free, iOS/Android) helps you determine the UV forecast anywhere you are, at any time. For instance, 11am to 3pm in Kuala Lumpur shows peak UV readings with high risk levels, and you will be advised to stay in the shade, don a hat, and perform regular applications of SPF30+ sunscreen.
Navigation favourite Waze (free, iOS/Android) also provides handy categories such as hospitals and police stations, should you need directions to the nearest safe havens.
An enhanced version of this story appears in the Star's tablet edition, The Star Editor's Choice March 7, 2013 issue. The app is available free from the App Store or Google Play.