The Pros and Cons of Apple Check In

What is Apple Check In?

Announced at WWDC 23, Apple’s annual developer’s conference, Check In is a new personal safety feature within iMessage that allows you to share a journey with your loved ones and automatically “check-in” when you’ve arrived safely at your destination.

Apple's Check In feature showing an alerted journey on an iPhone. The user's trusted contact can see the user's route on a map, alongside other safety details

How does Apple Check In work?

If you have ever asked your friend, child, or loved one to text you once they get home, then Apple Check In will feel like a handy update (so long as you both have an iPhone, that is!).

With Apple Check in, users can open iMessage, select where they’re going (maybe they’re walking home, or going on a road trip, for example) and then share that with a contact.

Instead of sharing the user’s location in real-time, Apple Check In focuses on a single journey, and will detect if you’re not making the expected progress. 

Check In will then give users the chance to update their journey. If, for whatever reason, they don’t manage to update, Check In will inform their trusted contact that something is amiss and will share the user’s location and route, as well as battery and signal levels.

An example of how Apple Check In would work

Say a user, Jess, has visited her parents in London and is now driving back to Manchester. She enters her home address into Apple Check In, shares the journey with her mum and jumps in the car. If Check In detects that Jess has gone off route, or is running behind time, it will ping her and check if everything is okay.

If, however, Jess goes off-track and doesn’t check-in, an alert will be sent out. As mentioned, Jess’ parents will get a notification with Jess’ location and relevant safety information, so that they can see for themselves whether it’s worth worrying about, and what to do next.

Then, say Jess stopped at a service station to get a snack. Check In will see that she has gone off-route and will ask if she wants to update her estimated time of arrival. With one tap, Jess can add 15 minutes, and Jess’ mum will be automatically updated

The pros of Apple Check In

Sending an Apple Check In message on iMessage (on an iPhone)

Built in to iMessage

If you and your loved ones all use iMessage, Apple Check In will be a handy addition to your daily chats. In many ways, Check In feels like a natural evolution to the “text me when you get home” habit so many of us use.

If your loved ones don’t all use iMessage (maybe you have an Android or you haven’t looked at your SMS since you installed WhatsApp a decade ago), then we’d suggest a less Apple-centric solution.


Because Apple have focused on the “getting home safely” aspect of personal safety, this Check In service has some really clever route-based features. Not only will Check In flag if you move away from your prescribed route, but it will also automatically check you in as “safe” once you arrive at your location. Smart!

If you want more than just a “get home safe” app, however, we recommend Callie’s brilliant personal safety app.

Privacy built in

As we’ve come to expect from Apple over the last few years, Check In is extremely privacy-focused. This applies not only to the technical side of things (everything is encrypted, end-to-end), but also to the way the app functions on a day-to-day level.

What do we mean by that? By focusing on short, journey-focused sessions, Apple has prevented Check In from being used as a snooping tool. It gives the user control over who they share a task with, and for how long. Once you have reached your destination, the tracking session stops, and there’s no way for someone to override it.

If you’re looking for a personal safety app, we recommend that you look for one that takes privacy as seriously as Apple or Callie. These products, while different, have a similar focus on end-to-end security protection, and on empowering the user to decide when they do and don’t want to be tracked.

The Cons of Apple Check In

Apple Check In and Android phones

So, will Apple Check In work on Android phones? –Right now, it doesn’t look like it. Check In is a feature built into iMessage, which is only available on iPhones.

If you’ve ever had your iMessage group chat “ruined” by someone who has moved over to Android, you’ll know the problems this can create. If you have an iPhone, but your friends/parents/children have a Samsung, Google Pixel or Huawei, Check In will not work for you.

If you want a service like Check In that works across phone types, try the very clever Callie App.

Apple Check In is only for journeys

Knowing that your loved one has got home safe is a wonderful feature, but there is plenty of other occasions in life where we’d like some extra peace of mind.

For instance, what if you’re going on a first date and want a couple of hours of support? Or, what if you are going for a walk without a fixed route? There are tons of situations where we might want to share our status with our loved ones but aren’t just heading to a location –such as when we’re on a big night out, when we’re waiting for a taxi, or even when we are working.

With the free Callie App, you can create timed sessions (such as “on a date with Jack – 2 hours”) that are shared with your loved ones. Rather than revolving solely around routes, Callie can be used for any situation. It creates a live, real-time connection for a set amount of time and, once the user is done, they can check-in as safe, and the session is ended.

Much like Apple Check In, if anything goes wrong, Callie will notify the user’s loved ones who will be able to see the user’s live location and previous route, as well as battery and signal status.

Moreover, if you want a solution like Check In but for businesses, you should check out Safepoint. They make apps and wearables specifically for protecting people at work.

Apple Check In doesn’t have real-time updates

During standard use, a Check In user’s trusted contact will only see that the user has started a route and finished a route. The contact will only be able to see further information if an alert is triggered –I.e, something goes wrong.

As a personal safety system, Apple’s Check In certainly keeps things simple. Sometimes, however, you want to check in on someone periodically; to make sure they’re safe and to check everything’s going to plan. This is not possible with Check In.

If you want the ability to check that someone’s okay when they’re on a date or in a cab, for instance, and to see a real-time live feed of their progress, you’ll want a dedicated app with more functionality.

Apple Check In vs Callie and ADT's personal safety solution

Above: while Apple's Check In feature requires users to keep an eye on their phone, Callie Plus provides 24/7 alert monitoring by ADT, so there's always someone there.

Apple Check In requires constant attention

A major problem with Apple Check in is that it requires the trusted contact to pay attention to their phone. Often this isn’t a problem. After all, if something goes wrong, Check In will notify the user’s contact, their phone will buzz and they can decide how to react. 

Unfortunately, however, this isn’t always easy. Sometimes people leave their phone in the other room, they get distracted by the show they’re watching, or they fall asleep. And, if your son or daughter is leaving the club at 2am, you may not even be awake when they start their journey!

This is something most apps will struggle with. Even Callie’s brilliant, free personal safety app requires that one of the user’s contacts is able to spot the alert. 

It was this problem that lead Callie to provide Callie Plus. This paid service (which we’ll go into in the next section) goes even further than Apple’s Check In or Callie’s free plan by providing a 24/7 alarm response service –powered by ADT. 

This partnership with ADT means that, when a user overruns a session and forgets to check in, they will get a check-up call by one of the world’s most respected security experts –just like when a smart fire or burglar alarm goes off. And, if there is a genuine issue, the experts at ADT will talk the user through the situation and, if necessary, get them the help they need.

Above: Apple Check In vs Callie's personal safety app

Should I use Apple Check In, and what are the alternatives?

We think that Apple Check In is a really handy, positive addition to iMessage. We think that, if you and your loved ones are all on a phone that can support it, Check In provides an easy way of sharing your journey home.

If you’d like a personal safety app that can do more, we really recommend Callie.

Callie’s free personal safety app gives you so many ways to take control of your personal safety. Rather than focusing on routes, Callie allows you to create sessions for any kind of activity. 

Callie has other clever features, such as their “Fake Call” button, where a user can trigger a convincing fake phone call to help them get out of difficult situations. 

Callie also makes it easy to add and remove different trusted guardians, so you can easily pick and choose who you want to share your session with. 

What’s more, while Callie’s free plan offers loads of clever features, their paid plan provides the peace of mind of 24/7 alert support by the security experts, ADT. Having a professional responder with you, day and night, is a real comfort, especially if you’re often out and about late at night, and want the security of someone watching over you.

And finally, Callie is providing even more functionality with their new safety bracelet. This is a clever piece of wearable tech, which is disguised as a premium piece of jewellery. Callie’s bracelet pairs with their app, and allows users to inconspicuously call for immediate help. 

Callie’s unique safety bracelet is launching later this year but you can check it out, here. The bracelet works with the free and the premium app meaning that, with just a single tap, you can send an alert to your loved ones or ADT’s professional responders.

For more information on Callie’s free personal safety app, their professional ADT-backed alarm monitoring service, or their elegant but powerful safety bracelet, you can head to their website.


Editor's note: Both Apple's Check In feature, And Callie's personal protection suite are subject to change. All images are illustrative only. All imagery of Apple's Check In feature have been taken from Apple's WWDC event, or have been mocked up.