Tech Review: Safety-minded apps for Halloween, beyond

Apps that help users stay connected.

Apps that help users stay connected. (Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

Halloween is supposed to be scary for kids, but it can also be frightening for their parents. These apps will help give you peace of mind when your little trick-or-treaters head out on their quest for candy or your teenage Halloween partyers head out looking for fun.

Life360 -- Family Locator

(iOS, Android; free)


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The app tracks the location of a circle of family members on a map, so you will know where your kids are and whether they have strayed past boundaries you might have set. You can also send and receive messages through the app to make sure everything is OK or to tell your kids it's time to come home. The app works in conjunction with the Life360 website (life360.com).

Track n Treat

(iOS, free)

For parents who worry the Life360 app may be more Big Brother than concerned parent, this brand-new Halloween-focused app from the maker of the Glympse location tracker may be a good alternative. As with the popular Glympse app, you can track locations of family members, but the tracking is temporary, and you can have it expire when the kids return home. Track n Treat is available only in an iOS version this Halloween, but Android users can download the full Glympse app (free) and get similar benefits.

Flashlight

(iOS, free)

This simple but effective utility turns a smartphone into a powerful LED flashlight, perfect for illuminating dark corners in a strange neighborhood. Users can also turn on a blinking strobe mode, so a band of trick-or-treaters can find each other quickly and quietly. Android users can check out the similar High-Powered Flashlight (free) from the same developer.

Red Panic Button

(iOS, $2.99; Android, $6.44)

This fairly expensive app pretty much does only one thing. Press the panic button, and a text message is sent to phone numbers that were set up in app's "panic contacts" section. The message is brief -- it has the name of the sender and a link to a Google map with the sender's location. The app can send a voice message to landline phones for a 25 cents-per-message charge. There's a free Android version, but it has limited functionality.

 

Tech bytes

 

Getty adds 5,400 online art images

The Getty Trust has added 5,400 high-resolution artwork images to its open content website (bit.ly/Getty-opencontent), bringing the total available to about 10,000. The images, which include drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks and archival photographs, span several centuries and are free to download. Getty says it hopes that making the images freely available "will play a major role in the transformation of art history."

-- Peter King


Apple eyes ultra-HD TVs

Apple is expected to start selling ultra-high definition televisions with 65- and 55-inch screens during the fourth quarter of next year, according to a Tokyo-based equity research firm. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, before he died in 2011, told his biographer he had "finally cracked" how to build a TV that would wirelessly synchronize content with Apple's other devices.

-- Bloomberg News


Free Wi-Fi can be costly

The lure of free Wi-Fi when you commute to work may be hard to resist, but you may be putting your employer at risk. More than 95 percent of office workers surveyed by tech

security consultants GFI Software said they use public Wi-Fi connections to do work-related tasks while commuting. Using public Wi-Fi networks increases the risk of a data breach or of introducing malware into company servers, GFI says. -- Peter King

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