Photo Credit: Truecaller
Truecaller launched a new personal safety app called Guardians on Wednesday. The new app from the caller ID platform is designed to crowdsource personal safety of its users by letting them share their location and alert their guardians in case of an emergency. Truecaller claimed that the Guardians app — built in-house over the past 15 months with team members from Sweden and India — would never share any personal information with any third-party apps for commercial use, including the Truecaller app. Guardians debuts just ahead of International Women's Day 2021 on March 8.
You will be able to sign up on the Guardians app using your existing Truecaller account or by entering your phone number. A missed call or one-time password (OTP) will be generated to verify your phone number before signing up if you aren't a Truecaller user. Truecaller also noted that the app requires only three permissions: your location, contacts, and phone permission.
The Guardians app is a free-to-use experience, without any ads or premium tiers, Truecaller says. In the coming days, a shortcut to download the Guardians app will be provided through the regular Truecaller app to bring new users on board.
“Guardians was born out of a simple question - how can we crowdsource personal safety, just like the way we crowdsource protection against spam, scams and frauds with Truecaller?” said Alan Mamedi, CEO and Co-founder of Truecaller parent True Software Scandinavia AB, in a prepared statement. “We also believe that we have the right tools and the conviction to make Guardians happen.”
The Guardians app allows users to select personal guardians from their contact list, choose when to stop or start sharing location, and can even set up permanent sharing with selected contacts. Users can also share their location during a particular trip, and the app will keep working in the background. It also comes with the ability to notify selected guardians to let them precisely follow the user's location in case of an emergency.
In a normal scenario the Guardians app shares location intermittently to preserve battery life. It, however, shares precise location once switched to the emergency mode. Aside from location sharing, the app shares the users' phone status, along with its battery life and network strength. It supports interoperability and is claimed to be device agnostic. This means that the app will provide location tracking even if the user has an Android phone and their selected contacts have the iPhone, or vice versa.
Once the details are shared, Guardians allows the contacts to call or message users with one tap. The selected contacts can also look at the particular location of the users once it's shared through the app.
Truecaller also plans to share your location with community Guardians who may be in your vicinity - but only once the emergency mode is enabled. This will bring crowdsourced personal safety and will be helpful especially for women travelling out. Truecaller told Gadgets 360 that it first has to scale up to a certain number of users to let the Community Guardians feature kick in. Community Guardians on the app will also be able to receive support from their contacts or other Guardians.
Truecaller also has plans to enable support within the app for getting help from local law enforcement. It is also actively looking for law enforcement agencies and first responders to partner with for providing support to the users.
Although Guardians is primarily focussed on women users and Mamedi told reporters during a virtual briefing that Truecaller's user base comprises 40-45 percent of women users, the app can be used by others as well.
"We believe that this is a service that can be used by everyone," said Mamedi.
On data sharing, Truecaller claims that it doesn't share any user data and can't even access the location data for any commercial purposes.
"We don't store it," stated Mamedi. "It's being streamed live directly to the client, so it will never actually touch our infrastructure."
Truecaller already has a strong user base of 270 million globally — over 200 million in India alone. This could help the company to stay distinct against other developers offering similar personal safety apps.
However, instead of going by integrating location sharing into the Truecaller app, the company decided to go with a separate offering to solely solve the purpose of personal safety.
"We believe that this [Guardians] deserves something bigger, and it deserves to be an independent product that you have on your phone that is lightweight, that only has one purpose," said Mamedi. "And that also means that we we have a dedicated team that thinks about this every single day, how do we improve the service? How do we make it better? How do we make it faster and so forth."
Truecaller does have plans to use its existing channels to bring users to Guardians in the coming days. There are, however, no plans to commercialise the app once it becomes successful.
"Our promise is that the app will remain free forever. We're not planning to monetise on it," said Mamedi.
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