A recently released iPhone app may help teenagers and college students take a stand against sexual violence, according to Nancy Schwatzman founder and executive director of the app’s developer, The Line Campaign, Inc. The app, called Circle of 6, uses GPS and text messaging to alert friends to your location if a date goes bad, or worse. “It is clear that there is a real need, and excitement about how young people can harness the technology they are already using,” said Schwartzman in a recent press release for the new iPhone app. More than 19,000 users have downloaded the app since its release last month. Schwartzman said that by the end of the year, she hopes that the application will be downloaded by an additional 10,000 teens and college students. The Circle of 6 application uses a number of pre-installed short message service (SMS) notifications, which are mapped to six friends or family members on a user’s smartphone. Using the phone’s GPS friends and family can locate the user.
A missing or abducted child may be one of the most frightening possibilities a parent can imagine. And in those first moments of panic, when every second counts, providing an accurate description of the missing child to authorities is critical. That’s where the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) first smartphone app intends to help. The app, “FBI Child ID,” is free for iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch and stores important identifying information about your child such as height, weight and hair color. Using the camera on the handheld device, parents may also snap a picture of their child.
In recent months, both Apple and Google faced criticism over the questionable content of certain apps in their online app stores, leading parents to wonder what exactly their children have access to when using popular smartphones. In March, Apple yanked a controversial “gay cure” app for the iPhone after an online petition calling for the app’s removal received 146,000 signatures in 24 hours. According to Exodus International, the religious group that created the application, Exodus is the largest Christian referral and information network dealing with homosexual issues, defining its mission as promoting “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” The group’s “freedom from homosexuality” app leads the user back to a website that focuses on abstaining from gay lifestyles, something Exodus International views as fundamental to upholding the values of Christianity. In late April, Google found itself in the middle of a similar controversy when a game for its Android operating system for phones simulating dog fighting appeared in its on-line shop, Android Market.
Parents will soon have a new tool to prevent their kids from sexting on an iPhone. Apple has created a text blocker to filter out certain explicit language, including abbreviated words that other similar programs may miss, according to CNN. The patent document actually says:
If the control contains unauthorized text, the control application may alert the user, the administrator or other designated individuals of the presence of such text. The control application may require the user to replace the unauthorized text or may automatically delete the text or the entire communication. A blogger at Tech Crunch points out that people who really want to send salacious messages will invent workarounds that don’t set off the censors. And oh, by the way, the patent addresses only words, not photos. So this won’t be the end of sexting, but it may be a step.