App review: Companion

Always have someone by your side on your walk home...
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App review: Companion

Never walk home alone

Ever been feeling uneasy on your way home, and wished you had a friend by your side? Companion is designed to keep you safe, even if you’re on your own.

Availability

Android, iOS

What does it do?

The Companion app, developed by a crack team of streetwise students at the University of Michigan, will mean you’ll never walk home alone again.

Simply enter your destination on the app and choose a few mates to have your back - they don't even need to have the app. If you feel like you’re in trouble, you can alert them and they will know exactly where you are. Of course, not every situation allows you to just jump on your phone and call home, and that’s why Companion is a little smarter than it might seem at first glance.

Katie Reiner at Companion explains: “If you don’t arrive on time, start heading in the wrong direction, start running abruptly or have your headphones yanked out while they’re in use, we will check in with you to make sure you’re okay. If you don’t respond in 15 seconds we’ll automatically alert your Companions.”

What did we like?

On running across a busy road, we were immediately asked if we were okay, as suggested by Katie above. On doing so, a big on-screen countdown clock starts, requesting us to tap in order to cancel. When we didn’t (out of curiosity) a notification was immediately sent to our Companion. They called and, of course, we were okay.

This is a smart function, but if some hulking robber was to wrestle our smartphone off us and make off into the night, how is our Companion to check up on us? And, how will they know where we are - given that the GPS will be coming from said stolen phone? Answers on a postcard please, Companion team.

What could be better?

It’s a very new app, and as with most new apps there are a few teething problems in tow. During setup, your attention will be brought to a function called Smart 911, which means that local police will have access to your location. However, to anyone living outside the US, like us for example - it raises a question mark.

Thankfully it resorts to 112 (the non-emergency UK police number) following setup, but this issue was only addressed after we re-downloaded the app.

We also had some trouble with the map accuracy, with our in-office Companion being led to understand our lonesome traveller had divulged from the agreed route. Thankfully he returned in one piece, but it was DEFCON 1 at The Lowdown’s HQ for a few minutes.

Our verdict

Companion is really good, although its release is seemingly premature. There are still issues to iron out, but give it six months and we’re sure users will be met with a much more succinct experience.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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