Ask4Help is a safety-enhancing app to alert/summon helpers with a single tap/press of an icon (orange button) visible on the phone screen.
A text message containing the current location of the initiating person is sent to designated helpers (see the attached screenshots).
The app is designed to provide a simple, efficient and an inexpensive solution installed directly on the mobile phone, without additional components or third-party contracts.
To install the app follow the standard Google Play process. The orange “Ask4Help” button in the “Apps” list of the phone indicates that the Ask4Help app is properly installed (see enclosed snapshot 1 for illustration). Upon initial installation, Ask4Help prompts the user for permissions to access other phone apps/components such as the “Contact” app, see snapshot 2.
Four (4) permissions are required: READ_CONTACTS, READ_PHONE, FINE_LOCATION and SEND_SMS.
NOTE: data is not saved nor shared externally, and it is ‘flushed’ when the app exists.
Once permissions are allowed, Ask4Help prompts the user to enter a phone number of the primary helper, see snapshot 3. The phone number must be 10 digits in one of supported formats: 312-199-0001 or simply 10 digits: 3121990001.
The entered ‘helper’ phone numbered is written to the phone’ “Contact” list as shown in snapshot 4 with a “A4H_” prefix (red circled). Additional contacts can be added directly to the Contact list, with a “A4H_” prefix (yellow circled).
Once the orange button is tapped, the app start reading the GPS, shown by the “Progress bar” (snapshot 5), and upon completion sends a text message containing the current address of the mobile phone, as shown in snapshot 6. A follow-up (second) text message contains the link to a map, in addition to the street address.
Upon receiving the messages, the contact person(s) can call back the phone requesting help, to review and appraise the situation or immediately call a local emergency center and relay the data.
Notes and clarifications:
1) The app is designed and verified for Android phones ONLY (no Tablets or Wear or Apple support).
2) The app was developed for Android 4.4 – 7 (APIs 19-25); View your phone version with an “About device” menu in “Settings”.
3) The phone must have a “Location” feature turned ON.
4) The Ask4Help app needs to have a contact added in the phone’s “Contact” list either in the first-time run as described above or later via a direct “Contact” interface with a “A4H_” prefix (for example A4H_contact 1, A4H_Mary). The total number of contacts must not exceed 3 to avoid excessive texting.
5) The address and the map are close approximations, as supported by the current GPS technology. In other words, if you draw a circle centered at this location and with a radius equal to the accuracy shown in the text message, then there is a 68% probability that the true location is inside the circle.
6) To show a map view, in addition to the address, the map link provided in the second text message must be tapped, and an independent map app such as “Maps” must be active.
7) Quality Assurance: this app has been tested in the google cloud lab with variety of production devices and test driven with an active mobile phone in Chicago, IL area.
8) For issues and questions send an email to the contact listed below, describe messages displayed on the phone screen and other relevant conditions.
Thinkable issues & resolutions:
a. After tapping the app icon (button) the phone screen shows app name and halts, that is it does NOT proceed to sending text messages with the current location >>> Verify that a Location feature is turned ON.
b. After tapping the app icon (button) the phone screen shows messages such as “no contacts” or “too many contacts” >>> Verify contacts are setup as illustrated in the snapshot #3.
Issues or questions: Submit a contact form in
Describe messages displayed on the phone screen and other relevant conditions.