iPhone: Crime Apps

Can an iPhone app keep you out of harm's way? Annie Gaus explores three applications for the iPhone that attempt to guard you from danger. Is your phone up to the task?

In a dangerous world, it's important to remain alert--at least, according to the makers of these three apps for the iPhone: iCrimeAware, Alarm Free and Offender Locator.

iCrimeAware complies crime statistics for cities across the United States, which you can browse by location and type. It's an interesting idea, but the statistics are nearly two years old, and thus, it doesn't really accomplish what its name implies--that is, helping you stay aware of crime happening around you. It also features a panic button that links to an emergency contact, but is probably not worth the $0.99 price tag.

Alarm Free aims to protect you with an alarm feature that supposedly will ward off an assailant. But realistically, this application would do nothing to protect you in the event of an attack--its features are merely annoying as opposed to self-defensive!

Lastly, Offender Locator--one of the most downloaded apps of the summer--provides detailed information about any registered sex offenders living in your area. It draws data from the national registry, so the information is up-to-date and detailed--to an extent that may make some uncomfortable. Its legal status has been somewhat in flux, and the paid version is no longer available in California. It's a bit creepy, and probably more effective as fodder for paranoia than as a crime deterrent.

So far, it's a strikeout for mobile crime prevention. To protect yourself, it might be wiser to invest in karate lessons instead.

Review by Annie Gaus.