Info-tech

Feeling unsafe? Call in the Guardians

Mala Bhargava Bengaluru | Updated on March 03, 2021

Truecaller launches a personal safety app based on location

Truecaller, the caller ID app, today launched a personal safety app called Guardians. Coming just before International Women’s Day, the app is however not just for women but anyone who anticipates being vulnerable while moving about in the city.

Truecaller will introduce the Guardians app through the main Truecaller app, but it will in effect be available separately. Truecaller does not plan to monetise this app or add premium features that a user will need to pay for at a later date. Instead, the app, dubbed a “labour of love,” is designed to help users share their live location with their ‘guardian’ contacts and request help if they need it. Guardians is available as a free download from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. All features of the app are free to use with no ads or premium tiers.

Personal safety is a natural extension of the core function of Truecaller, which aims to protect users from spam and harassing calls. Guardians has been built over the past 15 months by a dedicated team from Stockholm and India.

As Alan Mamedi, CEO & Co-founder of True Software Scandinavia AB explains, “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 fraud with Truecaller? We also believe that we have the right tools and the conviction to make Guardians happen.”

Guardians has a simple on-boarding process. Users can sign in with one tap. For those who do not use Truecaller, Guardian will verify the user’s phone number, using a missed call or a one-time password (OTP).

The app requires three permissions: a user’s location, contacts and phone permission. The permission for contacts is required to help users select and invite their personal Guardians, while the phone permission is meant to show their phone status to their Guardians.

Users can pick their personal Guardians from their contacts list, choose when to stop/ start sharing location and set up permanent sharing with select Guardians.

While sharing the location for a particular trip, Guardians will work quietly in the background.

There’s an emergency button within the app that lets users notify their Guardians about their location and situation when they don’t feel safe or are in an emergency.

Truecaller does not save users’ location on their servers, with the information going directly to a user’s selected priority contacts or to volunteers vetted by Truecaller. The work planned with volunteers has not begun yet, nor have trials with the police or other authorities.

Although other apps and onboard functions share location with users, Truecaller sees its strength in not requiring the user to stop and type in a contact. Instead an ‘I need help’ button can trigger a connection with a contact or multiple contacts. The Guardians app does not launch the camera or a voice recording and a completed trip cannot be revisited.

Published on March 03, 2021

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