Appearing as a news app, Aspire News contains summaries of top world, sports, and entertainment news. However, it also includes a Help Section with resources on domestic violence and allows users to discreetly send a message to friends in an emergency. Trusted contacts who are added within the app can be alerted with or without the user's location information.
What We Love:
- The inconspicuous nature of the app can be helpful to some survivors who want to use a personal safety app, but are concerned that the abuser may find the app on the phone.
- The trusted contacts do not have to be individuals who are already in the phone's contact list, giving the user more flexibility over who they chose as a trusted contact.
- Within the app, there is a quick escape button that the user can use to quickly change the screen to news if someone was to look over their shoulder.
Safety & Privacy Considerations / Tips:
Location & Accuracy:
- As stated in our Choosing and Use Apps: Suggestions for Survivors section, survivors should test any safety app to ensure that it works the way they need it to before relying on it in an emergency.
- When tested, emergency alerts were sent and received, but didn't always include location information when sent from Android phones. Location was only sent from the Android when the Location setting was changed from GPS Only to High Accuracy (uses GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks). Survivors should take note of their location settings if they use Android since certain settings may be required for the app to work. Tests from iPhones sent location, whether on wifi or mobile network.
- In many tests, with both iPhones and Androids, the location sent to the recipient was slightly inaccurate. This may only be an issue if the user is at a location that is unknown to the recipient. Survivors should try to communicate as much as possible about their location if they need immediate assistance.
- The app does need the phone's location services to be turned on in order to work. When not in use, survivors may want to turn location off to maximize their privacy.
Communication with Emergency Contacts:
- In the set-up, the app asks the user to submit their name so the contact will know who is requesting help. When the emergency alert is sent to the contacts, the number shown is from an Illinois area code that is not connected at all to the user. Because of this, it is important for survivors to put a name or something they've agreed upon with their emergency contacts so that the contact knows who the message is from.
- If a user didn't choose to enter a name or key word when they initially set up the app, they can add it later. However, where that is updated can be a little difficult to find. Users should navigate to the Trusted Contacts page and then select the small gear / settings icon in the corner.
- Although a phone icon appears next to the listed Trusted Contacts, in our tests this did work to call them directly through the app. Users should test this option as well so they know the fastest way to make contact.
- The app is supposed to include an option for users to pre-record a message that will be sent to contacts in an emergency, however this option was only found in the iPhone and not on the Android. The recording option offers a very short recording time and, when tested, the recording did not send to the recipient. Again, survivors should test all features to make sure it works they way they need it to.
- There are several resources listed under the Help Section. Some of them are 24-hour hotlines and others are organizations that are only available during business hours and may not provide direct services. Survivors who need immediate assistance should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, or the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).
- When tested, the phone icons next to each resource did not work and the user could not make calls from the app.