Personal Safety tracking apps –What are they and should you use them?

Banner that reads "Personal safety apps: What are they and should you use them?" next to an an image of a personal safety app and a concerned young woman on the phone

Personal safety apps, tracking apps, location sharing apps, what are they?

“Personal safety apps”, “tracking apps”, “location sharing apps” –whatever you call them, apps that help people share their GPS location for safety and tracking are incredibly popular.

In fact, 40% of parents in the UK use some kind of GPS tracking app (according to a 2019 report). 

The use of location sharing services may include permanent, “always on” tracking apps like Life360, one-off sharing functions like in WhatsApp or iPhone messages, or a hybrid “privacy-friendly” location sharing app like Callie Personal Safety.

In short, these apps help people share their location, or follow the location of other people. They are often used by parents looking out for their kids, by individuals wanting to make sure their friends “get home safe”, and by couples who want to share their location with their partner.

Should I use a location sharing or tracking app?

There are many valid reasons to use a location sharing app. Not only do many people feel more at ease knowing that their loved ones have (for instance) got home safely, many people also feel safer knowing that they’re being watched over.

Comfort with being “watched over” in this way is more common with younger people. Gen Alpha, Zoomers and younger millennials are all more likely to find value in sharing their location. They may have grown up around smartphones and may have even been raised with tracking apps.

The important part, for many people, is trust. Trust that they are sharing their location with the right people –and for the right reasons. We’ll go over that in the privacy section of this article.

It’s also important to know how often you would like to share your location, or would like a location to be shared with you. Parents of younger children can be more exacting about this kind of thing, and may want to watch over their kids whenever they’re out of the house, while parents of teenagers may want to respect their child’s burgeoning sense of privacy.

For adults, the desire to share a location will largely come from people who want a little more oversite during higher risk or more unfamiliar situations. Some people might want to temporarily share their situation while on a date, on a run, on a bike, while travelling, or in cab, to name a few examples.

What are the differences between types of location sharing apps?

The differences between these types of apps are vast. While many may look the same from the outside, it’s important to look at the features they offer, the price, and the levels of tracking/privacy. 

We’ll go through each of these app types in turn and explain the pros and cons of each.


1. “Always-on” tracking apps

Level of tracking

As mentioned, there are levels to which someone might chose to share their location, or track someone else’s. 

With always-on tracking apps, users can track someone else’s location 24/7 (so long as the person’s location tracking functions are running). We believe this may be attractive to parents of young children, but is more problematic for teenagers and adults.

Many teenagers and adults, understandably, feel uncomfortable with being tracked around the clock. Meanwhile, many people feel uncomfortable about tracking a loved one to this level.


Where these permanent location tracking apps do succeed is on their focus on safety. With these apps you can add anyone into a group or “family” and see their live location. Sometimes you can also send out SOS alarms, “check-in” to a location and even sync with physical tracking devices. Some of these features will be free, some will be additional add ons.

These types of apps certainly show the range of safety features available –just a shame about the style of tracking.


The most popular “always-on” tracking app offers a free service, and then premium features ranging from £6.99 to £19.99 a month depending on coverage.

When looking at price, it’s important to check what features presented and what are not.

Offering a “freemium” service is pretty typical in this sector –as it is in many apps. It is worth noting, however, the old maxim that “if you are not paying for a product, you are the product”. In this case, some of the most popular GPS location tracking apps sell their user's data to aggregators. 

If you want a solution that doesn’t sell your family’s data, we suggest skipping to part three of this section!


2. Location-sharing apps

Level of tracking

Instead of the “always-on” apps above, some solutions focus on only sharing location (for instance, while you’re travelling to a location). This has been seen as a modern alternative to the “text me when you get home” idea. It is not just helpful for “getting home safe” but also for helping people know how far away you are when you’re meeting up!

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Whatsapp’s “share location” function. While you’re in a message, you can quickly share your location with a contact for 15 minutes, one hour, or eight hours. This functionality has also been brought into Apple’s iMessage.


Features like "share location" are great as a quick “here’s where I am!” notification, and can help when you’re meeting up for coffee or your telling your friend you're ten minutes away, but they’re hardly robust safety tools.

For a start, this type of location sharing does little good if a person doesn’t arrive at the place they were heading to. If the person gets diverted for whatever reason, the sharing timer will run out and that’s it! 

Similarly these type of functions aren’t good for sounding the alert when something goes wrong. Unlike the dedicated tracking apps listed above, these don’t tend to offer SOS buttons or check-in alarms.

For the friend or family group that just wants to share their safety sessions and check in on each other without the privacy issues of round-the-clock tracking, we suggest the more trust-based safety app described below!


Often, sharing your location in this way is free as part of your existing apps. If you have WhatsApp, iMessage, or a similar app, simple location sharing is free and simple.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive safety app, however, we suggest reading on to the next section.


image of the Callie personal safety app on a stylised banner next to the wording: "Callie.  Use the free version forever or  upgrade to the premium plan with 24/7 monitoring for  just  £99 a year!"

3. Session-based personal safety app

For this section, we’re going to be looking at the Callie Personal Safety app, which provides way more safety features than a journey-sharing app, but doesn’t come with the privacy issues of some of the major “always on” tracking apps.

Level of tracking

With the Callie Personal Safety app, users pick who they’d like to share their location and safety details with (these are called guardians). These guardians can be added and removed at any time (which is handy when situations and relationships change)

Importantly, Callie is entirely “session-based”. You create timed sessions when you’re on a date, going for a run, commuting, whatever, and they’re instantly shared with your guardians. When you’re done, you check in as safe and the location sharing stops. Importantly, there are no ways for guardians or the app itself to track you without creating a session, so privacy is built in!

The only other time a user’s location can be tracked is during an active alert. Alerts are raised automatically if the user fails to check in as “safe” before their session timer runs out, and can also be raised manually, at any time, from the app or lockscreen. (More on this in the Features section below.)


The Callie app is packed full of helpful features. While it’s relatively new, it has all the important safety features like the aforementioned trackable “Watch Over Me sessions” and manual alerts which can be triggered from the lock screen, home screen and in-app. Being able to tap a button on your lock screen and have it send an alert, live location and safety information is incredible!

It also has clever non-emergency features such as the “Fake Call”. Once triggered, the Fake Call feature will wait a set amount of time, and then ring the user through the phone network and go through a believable script. This can be used to get out of awkward but not life threatening situations.

As for the guardians, (parents, friends, partners) who like to know their loved one is safe, but who doesn’t need all the features themselves, they can download a dedicated “Guardian App”, which gives a stripped down way to see all sessions and alerts of anyone that has shared with them.


Callie has a free and a premium service –nothing too unusual there! What is surprising, however, is that all the features listed above are completely free. Even more surprisingly, there are no caveats. Unlike some companies, Callie doesn’t run ads and doesn’t sell user data. It’s just free to use for everyone.

So what keeps the lights (or servers) on for this free service? For a start, Callie is made by corporate-safety experts Safepoint. Normally, they provide premium solutions for businesses, and they built Callie as a way to give everyone the chance to feel safe when they’re on their own, not just those who are at work.

Secondly, Callie offers a premium service. For £99 a year (or £9 a month), CalliePlus users are connected with 24/7 security agents powered by Callie’s partners, ADT. That means, if you’re out cycling and you run over your session, or you are walking home at night and you hit the SOS button, a trained security professional will call you, talk you through the situation and, if necessary, can send the emergency services out to your live location.

Having ADT security agents on call around the clock for £99 a year is quite the bargain. It means that, whenever or wherever you or your loved one feels threatened, someone will be there for them.

Summary: what’s the best personal safety app?

Deciding what kind of app is best for you really depends on your needs. If you have young kids and you want to track their phone 24/7, you might decide an “always on” app is right for you. Do look into what information is being shared outside of your group, however!

If you already have a messaging app with location sharing features, obviously this is an easy way to share, but you may be let down by the lack of actual “safety” features.

If you want a compromise between “making do” with sending locations in messaging apps, and feeling like Big Brother is watching you with the always-on apps, however, we’d recommend Callie.

Free, full of features, easy to use, and an awesome premium plan backed up by one of the world’s oldest security brands… If you want a powerful safety app that also respects the privacy of you and your loved ones, we’d recommend Callie.