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New safety app will automatically tell your friends when you get home


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Meet Hope – a new app for your smart phone that allows you to check if your friends are in or out, safely.

Originally from Lancashire, now in San Francisco. Victoria Haynes, creator of the new app, is trusting us with a more secure and informative app than ‘Find My Friends’.

But is technology dominating us, by cautiously giving us the ability to constantly find out where anyone is at any time? Kim Kardashian snapchatting before being held at gunpoint was a suggestion that sharing location via social media can be highly dangerous.

I had a chat with Victoria to ask her about the purpose of Hope, which allows you to know if your friends or family are home safe or still out, if their battery or phone is dead, and why it will reduce worry and not invade your private life.

“Hope is a virtual BFF, a personal concierge and the social glue between millennial females," Victoria says. "Basically, it’s a thicker based messaging app that automatically shows when your friends get home.”

Victoria’s forthright attitude about the app made me curious, and so I downloaded the app to see for myself.

“The key difference to some of the share your location apps, like ‘Find My Friends’ for example, shares your location on a map the whole time. Hope shows if you are in or out as well.”

It’s evident that the app has been carefully thought out. However, having a location-based app can be an invasion of privacy; Victoria's friends were already not so keen on being checked up on all the time on other location-based apps.

“I think some people are okay with that level of privacy, and some people aren’t," Victoria says. "So my friends in particular weren’t okay with that, we said we love each other and everything; but don’t need to know exactly where we are all the time.”

If we don’t always need to share our location, then why was Hope created? Victoria explains how the idea came about.

“It got me thinking after a night out - I was worried about one of my friends getting home, and I was calling her and texting her but there was no response. I thought she’d be okay, but I was worrying for no reason.

"The way the app works is that you set certain places in your app, and as you come and go from those places the app automatically updates. In the situation of my friend, as soon as she would have got home, it would have shown that she was in one of her places and her profile would have gone green to indicate that.”

Are we taking technology too far by being able to find out where our friends or family are all the time? Does this not cross the boundary of social activity with privacy?

“One of the reasons I built the app was to take a step back from some of the technology that’s out there. For example, being able to see where you are all the time. So for me, this is a way of using technology that doesn’t get super intrusive.”

Victoria continues: “If you say to a friend you’re somewhere when you’re actually in a different place, it can start causing a little contention. What I’m trying to do with this is take a step back, and give people a piece of mind that we’re using technology comfortably. All you’ll ever see is whether you’re in or out, and that’s it.”

As students at university, there are times when we find purselves walking home alone at an unfriendly hour. Victoria considered developing the app to cover safety aspects too.

“It shows if you’re in or out and how long you’ve been out for," she says. "Thinking about the ‘What if’ situations, we could build in more of an alert system if you’re not feeling safe. If you’re walking home alone and feeling a little on-edge, there could be an alert-mode that you go into that would send your live location. It’s definitely something that we’re open to.”

A question that played on my mind for a while was, why is it called Hope? Victoria answers with a tone of excitement.

“I was looking for a girl’s name, because the app has a virtual friend in there that can help you book an Uber and shop and other things, so letting you know your friends get home is just one slice of it.

"But I was looking for a female name that wasn’t common and I found ‘Trust’, and thought this is perfect! And then I looked at another called ‘Hope’ and thought, okay, this is fate because my Mum always told me to stick together and make sure my friends and I get home okay, so I think that’s always been distilled in me.”

Although the app has a feminine feel, Victoria assures me that it is a unisex app - but within the context of women's safety, it’s been built with females in mind.

“The way I think about it, it’s for females and those who care about her (sic). For example, I have my brother, friends, and my fiancée on there. It’s anyone who cares that you’re okay.”

Victoria has detected the acceptable level between socialising, mixed with the appropriate level of privacy, to ensure we worry less and relax more: “It’s more about removing the worry.”

Hope is available on IOS.

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