We are very sorry to have to announce that the TingoFamily server will be closing down.
Our decision to bring down the service has been a difficult one, but when Apple released the Find my Friends and iMessage products with iOS 5, we realised that it was time to stop. Find My Friends is a very polished and, in combination with iMessage (free phone to phone messaging), covers most of the functionality that TingoFamily delivers. You can download it for free from the App Store.
Again, thanks so much for your support and our apologies that we couldn’t continue to provide the service.
We have made lots of cosmetic changes in this version, like warning you about phones on low battery and helping you with configuration problems, but the big change is the ability to configure the way TingoFamily works in the background.
We now have two options for background location tracking:
Battery Saver Mode - With this default setting, to conserve your battery, we will only update your location when you are on the move. if you are in one place for a couple of hours, we will show your last check-in two hours ago. If you start moving (and your phone detects a new cell tower), then your location will be updated.
Constant tracking Mode - If you tap the ‘Info’ button on the top left you can switch off ‘Battery Saver Mode’. In this mode your phone’s location will be sent to TingoFamily.com every 10 minutes, regardless of your movement.
You can switch between location tracking options whenever you like.
We have been growing pretty steadily over the last few months, so I thought it would be fun to make a map of our users’ locations. It is amazing to see all the places around the world where people are using TingoFamily. Thanks! :)
We recently received this query from one of our users. It is a very good question, without a simple answer, so I thought I would share our response here.
There are a few ways that a child could circumvent location tracking:
Turning off the phone. (This involves long pressing the power button and then swiping the “Power off” switch, not just locking the screen).
Disabling “Location Services” from the iPhone’s settings. (This can’t be intercepted by our app).
Leaving their phone with a friend. This is the worst case scenario and something we really want to avoid.
So we aren’t able to prevent resourceful kids from figuring out how to get around the system, instead we want to try and focus on making you aware after the fact if tracking has been disabled.
We will start tracking as soon as the phone is turned back on (and the child moves a significant distance).
We can detect if the app has been uninstalled and reinstalled.
We can check the state of ”Location Services” and let you know if it has been disabled.
Avoiding the fourth option is trickier. There is no technical way we can prevent this and we believe the solution here is, rather than trying to lock down the phone, adding the ability to explicitly “cloak” the app (ie disable tracking) and having that state visible from the parents phone. This seems counter-intuitive, but we think that having an open conversation with our kids about being tracked, and giving them permission to disable it temporarily, is preferable to them finding ways around the technology. This cloaking mode isn’t available in the app at the moment, but we will be adding it soon.
As our kids get older, their personal freedom becomes more and more important (to us and to them). We don’t want TingoFamily to constrain those important changes, rather to be a part of them.
We would love to hear what you think of our approach.
Something we really struggled with in the last few weeks is signups, not downloads, signups. Looking at our data we discovered some alarming trends. We had people interested in the app, downloading it from the app store and then getting stuck signing themselves in and adding their family members.
This is obviously a pretty serious problem with the software, so we have worked pretty hard on ironing out the issues. If you try out TingoFamily 1.8 you will discover a few changes:
When you add your family members, you will only have to specify their name and email address. Talking to our users, we found that all the extra information just confused things. You can edit the other details (phone numbers, parent/child setting etc) once they have been created.
If you have added a family member and they have never logged in, we assume there is an issue with getting the details for the account. Those users will show up with a warning icon and clicking on them will reveal all their signup details so you can log them in.
We found that users had disabled their location settings and weren’t aware of it. We have made sure that the app now makes this more obvious.
Finally the biggest change was a bug fix in the automatic signin email that we send when you add a user. We discovered (to our horror) that the app was crashing when the new user clicked on the link. This is fixed now and we hope that the number of signups will now more closely match our downloads.
So signups are hard enough without horrible bugs like this, but it forced us to re-examine the new user experience and that can’t be a bad thing.
The final part of our Launch conference demo video, Messaging. TingoFamily is built on a robust, SMS like, realtime messaging framework. This lets us send realtime alerts for Assistance Mode and Zones, but it also means that you can chat with your family :).
The next and largest installment in the feature demo videos we have been building for the Launch conference. This one demonstrates how when someone in your family is lost or in trouble, they can get in touch fast.
Pleased to announce that version 1.6 is now available on the store. We have been working hard on iterating “Zones”, our geo fencing feature. We realised pretty quickly that the push notifications when people moved in and out of zones was great, but we needed the ability to see, at a glance, where everyone is from the home screen.
Version 1.6 adds more information on the Home screen about where people are (if they have entered a zone) and on the Zones screen it now shows who is currently in each zone.
We have also tweaked a couple other things in the app. Zone changes now include a time so you can look at your previous messages and work out when people came and went. We also improved the way the app handles network problems so no more annoying popups!
As always, we hope you like it and would love to hear from you.