Bubble Chat

App Review – Bubble Chat

Threat Level – High


Bubble Chat is a free app designed by a company named Hit Labs. It appears this is Hit Labs first app for the Social Media genre and they went all in. 

Group texting has slowly become popular with teens and adults. I see my daughters using apps such as GroupMe and iMessage group texting with their friends. My daughters cheer team and gymnastics team utilize the group feature of GroupMe. You also see circles of friends of your children getting involved in group messaging to stay connected. 

So what is Bubble Chat? Bubble chat is a group texting app that has added a few extra features to make it stand out ahead of the competition. 

When you first download the app, it asks you what kind of group you are wanting to start. Sporting group, friend group, etc. The app will then ask for your phone number to confirm you do have a number to associate it with. After these couple of steps to setup, you are ready to start your group. The app makes you select one person to add to the group before the group is created. Once your group is live, you can then add more people to it. The app uses data to send messages rather than using your texting plan through your cell phone. Most text driven apps use data, either cellular or wifi depending on what you are connected to. 

If you use GroupMe or other messaging apps, the group text user interface will look similar. It has a chat window at bottom of screen along with buttons for sharing pictures, videos, gifs and stickers. You will also see a drop down menu at the top with the name of the group (or bubble) you are currently in. You can have multiple bubbles ..aka group chats.. going at one time. You will

notice in the lower menu there is a button for live video chat and also a menu of “celebrities” you can invite to your chat. I didn’t recognize any of the celebrities myself. They stated they were anything from professional models to MMa fighters. How often one of these so called celebrities will ever jump into someone’s chat is beyond me. Bubble Chat having this celebrity feature draws in curiosity from children. 

The live video chat feature is something that the many other competing group texting app doesn’t have. You can select the live chat and immediately start sharing live video with up to 10 people in your group. This is a good feature for the app, but unsupervised children and live video chat do not mix well. Adults or monitored chat for your children would be preferred for this feature. Add the “celebrity” chat and now you could have your children inviting strangers or so called celebrities to their chat groups. or live video streams. 

Other members of your groups or “bubbles” must have the app installed on their devices as well. The live chat feature along with inviting “celebrities” to your bubbles, is what bumped this group texting app up to a high threat level. 

Make sure if you let your kids use Bubble chat, you stay on top of who they are in chats with and especially who they are live chatting with in the video streams. 

Description – B, bubble, b letter, letter b, 3D b, neone b, bright color b, 3b’s, neon b, bubble, chat, GroupMe, group chat, group video, live video 

Clips

App Review – Clips


Threat Level – Very Low

The app Clips is Apples newest app available on the App Store. Clips app basically is named after the word Video Clips because that is literally all you do with it. Edit videos. 

In the world of Snapchat, FB messenger and other social media outlets where pictures and videos are being shared, I feel Apple needed to be involved without taking on the social media side to those apps. So out of no where the Clips app launched. I was kind of confused at first because Apple already has an app called iMovie that allows just about any editing option for pictures and video that can be offered but then I understood what they were going for which I’ll explain shortly. 

The Clips app was the first app I have seen that requires you to be on the newest version of IOS 10.3.1. When I went to download the app, a prompt immediately popped up that did not allow me to download the app without updating to newest IOS. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. How many times do you click the later button as your phone asks you to update, even though they’re security updates. So the skinny on this newest Apple app is if you want Clips, you must update. Once the update is installed and you are ready to launch Clips, you will see a pretty basic, simple to use interface attached to a video editing app. Clips allows you to take videos or select videos to throw some editing towards. Add captions? Sure .. Add stickers? sure. Would you like to use live dictation to put text over top of your videos? You can do that too. 

So now to the rating and should you let your children use Clips app. I have it a very low threat level because that is my lowest rating. This app doesn’t have any features that is going to jeopardize safety or security of device and is really easy to use. This app allows only local editing and the share features have to be shared in other apps. So basically this app is just an editing app for your videos and once your done you can save away to your device to pull up in other apps. The export video after edit is your normal selections, device, camera iCloud Drive etc. In a long list of picture editing apps, this is Apples answer to video editing with no new social media ties. 

Description Keywords – blue, apple, video, camera, blue camera, video editing, edit, video, blue and white, blue, light blue

Triller

App Review – Triller


Threat Level – Moderate


Triller is an app developed by a company of the same name Triller LLC. Triller is another social media video sharing app in the long list of other video sharing apps. Triller advertises that you can make your life come to video. More specifically there slogan is ‘Your life in video’. They advertise in the app store to join Triller and make your moments look better than ever! Just a few snaps and Triller makes a great video for you. Triller encourages you to join the millions of other making amazing videos on the fly. So what makes this app different?


First out the shoot, Trilller is available on the two major mobile markets in IOS and Android. If you search on the App Store on IOS, you will find that Triller also has an app for the Apple TV and an extension for iMessage. The app is free and after you download it, you will be prompted to make a Triller account. The account setup is basically like any other social media app account creation. You can select to login with your Facebook, twitter, email or phone number. 


Once your account is created, Triller will ask you to select people you would like to follow. It does the standard scan of your contacts and your Facebook or twitter friends to show you who is already using the app that you may already know. After you select your friends, it will show you a menu similar to how instagram looks to pick ‘celebrity’ accounts to follow. From individuals to business accounts. 


After you have selected your followers, the feed will look similar to instagram. Block style scrolling that allows you to scroll through videos your friends or people you have followed have posted. When you go to make your own post, you will see that Triller wants to help you make your video post by adding your own music and helping you piece together your own videos. Once Triller has assisted you in making a video you are ready to post it for fellow Trillers to view. You can like or comment on videos and even direct message another Triller user. 


I have this a moderate threat level for children using this app. I would categorize this app with instagram or Twitter. A social app similar to instagram. You will want to make sure they know who they are following and make sure who is following them. No strangers! Only approved friends by mom and dad. Remember the direct messages. You want to make sure they are. It talking in direct message to someone they don’t know. 


I feel like this app is another spin on Instagram and you should use the same precautionary measures for your children as you do Instagram. 

Description – pink, pink black, ball, pink. Purple, Ball, sliced ball, circle, sliced circle

Five Nights at Freddy’s

App Review – Five Nights at Freddy’s

Threat Level – Moderate


Five Nights at Freddy’s is what’s called a point to click game. This means it doesn’t require a lot of character movement making it a simple game to control. It is an indie survival horror video game developed by Scott Cowthon over 3 years ago that has became a popular game with teenage kids. This game is available for all mobile markets and PC. Due to its popularity, a book was released, a movie deal in the works and 4 spin off games since this first original came out. 


The goal for the player is to survive five nights at a business called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza while avoiding getting caught and killed by the animatronic characters by tracking their movements via the restaurant’s security cameras. The game is very dark and developers encourage you to play with headphones in to become more involved with the creepy music of the game and the pop up in your face scare tactics. The games business you are playing inside of reminded me of a possessed Chuckee Cheese run down restaurant setting. Those Animatronic characters are scary enough. Without them coming to life at night. 


The game begins and describes your new summer job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza (where kids and parents alike come for entertainment and food as far as the eye can see!). The main attraction is Freddy Fazbear and his friends Chica, Bonnie and Foxy. The characters are creepy looking animatronic stuffed animals. 


The story revolves around the robots behavior at night. You are a new hire since it was much cheaper to hire you as a security guard than to find a repairman for the characters. From your small office you must watch the security cameras carefully. You have a very limited amount of electricity you’re allowed to use per night. That means when you run out of power for the night then no more security. If Freddy Fazbear or his friends aren’t in their proper places, you must find them on the monitors and protect yourself by opening and closing doors. 
The monitors are the security cameras positioned throughout the restaurant to observe the animatronic characters. The player has a limited amount of power to view camera feeds, light hallways, and close the doors on either side of them. 


You must use this camera feed inside the building and hold the animatronics off using the doors. If the player fails to do this, they will be scared and told Game Over. To advance to the next night, the player must survive from 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM (8 minutes and 37 seconds in real-time, 4 minutes 30 seconds on the mobile edition). Then It’s on to the next round. 


So what makes this game scary and a moderate threat level? I can see where teenagers would think this is a funny kind of scare tactic game, but for kids under the teenage years, I can tell where this would be scary. The animatronics in the game are stuffed animals. Anytime you take an innocent stuffed animal toy and turn it evil by making it come to life and attack you…. then my guess is that your small kids are not going to like being around their stuffed animals at night time. This would be because in the game at night is when they come to life and try to kill you. FNAF is definitely not recommended for children under 13 years of age (or scare easily). I think it is safe to say that if your kid can watch a pg-13 scary movie then this game will be fine for them to play. 


Remember this game went viral which stemmed several sequels, toys, a book series and a future movie that is in the works. The sequels that are similar to the original with new story lines and new characters are still the same threat level as this review due to the nature of the games all being similar. 

Here is a list of the other Freddy games with their launch dates –


November 11, 2014 – Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 
March 2, 2015 – Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 (Steam release) 
July 23, 2015 – Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 
October 7, 2016 – Five Nights at Freddy’s : Sister location
December 1, 2016 – a free update containing the ‘Custom Night’ became available for Sister Location. 
January 21, 2016 _ FNAF World


Keywords: Freddy, bear, evil bear, stuffed animals, chuckee cheese, animatronics, evil teddy bear, teddy bear

Duo

App Review – Duo
Threat Level – Moderate

Duo is a video conferencing app made by Google Inc. Duo appears to be Googles answer to Apples video calling app FaceTime.


Duo is a live video conferencing app that is available on both major mobile operating systems. Duo works on IOS devices along with android devices. After a little research with some Android user friends, I have learned that even though Duo is programmed by Google and is their prime competition with Apple for live video conferencing aka FaceTime, the app is not preloaded on any versions of Android OS. So as of right now if you are an Android user, then you will have to go to the play store to download Duo.


Duo answers the long lasting question of how can I FaceTime from my iPhone to my friends Android phone. Ask no more. This app can be used on both devices with ease. Once you download the app, you are not required to enter any Google information. The app will use your phone number to allow others to video conference with you instead of requiring a gmail address, which if you have a cell phone then you have a phone number. This takes a lot of the hassle out of a registration process or having tongreat a gmail account. After Duo verifies your phone number, you are ready to start using the app. Verification is just a text message with a code that you must enter.
The ease of setup and simple interface makes the app easy to use.

The app will scan your contacts on your phone and list others who are already using Duo and puts the others in a list to themselves where inviting them is just a touch of their name. Duo does not have group video chat or any texting features at this time and has been developed for one on one video phone calling.

If you find this app on your child’s phone, remember this is an app that allows direct communication with live video to others. Make sure they know who they are video chatting with and the dangers of video chatting are obvious. With video chatting being the only avenue of communication, I gave a moderate threat level to the app and a common sense reminder of monitoring this app just like you would FaceTime.

Keyword search – duo, double, video chat, chat with video, FaceTime, apple FaceTime, video conference, blue, white, camera, blue circle with camera

Pokemon Go


App Review – Pokemon Go

Threat Level – Very Low

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past week then you probably at least have heard about the new mobile game called Pokemon Go that is now the number one app downloaded on the Google Play and IOS App Store. Pokemon Go has been out for less than two weeks and stats are showing that the app is being used more than Instagram, Snapchat and even messaging with and average of 43 minutes of use per user per day. This is the first time an app has been this out of the Shute popular since Facebook released their app. 

Pokemon Go is a game developed and programmed by Niantic, a programming division inside Nintendo Inc. The original company actually started a different augmented reality based game called Ingress before getting bought out by Nintendo after they seen its popularity. Now users are reaping the benefit of a stable Gps driven game. Pokemon Go is built on Ingress servers with the power of Nintendo and Pokemon behind it. This is by far Nintendo’s biggest mobile app launch yet under the Niantic name.  

Before I get into what the game is, let me define this games program engine and how it works. This style of game is called augmented reality. Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented (or augmented) by computer-generated input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. This is when a programmer uses the camera on your mobile device to let the user see things through their devices that are not really there. They uses Gps on your phone to know where you are and where the item is that you are interacting with. You have to hold your phone up and the app uses your camera to show you digital images or data that is not really there. This technology will continue to evolve (Pokemon Go pun intended) into other apps. Now that you have an understanding of augmented reality, lets dive into what Pokemon Go (the biggest augmented reality app to date) is all about. 

Pokemon Go is available on both major app markets IOS and Google Play for free with in game purchases of course (they have to make their money somewhere). After the app is downloaded, you begin by creating your account. You have two choices on launch screen for registering your new Pokemon Go account. One choice is to create your own Pokemon account with basic information including email address or the other misusing an existing Google account. I had a couple people ask me about articles they have read online about your data being used when you use Google. Rest assured people, Google is getting their data anytime you use any Google product, this isn’t anything new that Google is doing. What extent? No one really knows. And Apple has admitted to some data mining as well. It is nature of the beast and it is not going on everywhere. If you don’t want to be a part of that, then you would have to take yourself completely off the grid by staying off the internet and away from anything that has access to the Internet. Now that I have explained the obvious, lets get back to Pokemon Go. After an account is created, you are able to customize the look of your trainer. Select a male or female and customize their clothing and look. The basic gameplay story is you create a character (trainer) then go out and catch pocket monsters (aka Pokemon). Once you have captured them you collect them, train them and fight them against other trainers. 

The hunting of Pokemon is what is getting people outside and moving around. There is a total, as of launch (more to be added with updates) of 250 different Pokemon. To find them you must walk around and use your phones camera to see where they are around you. Different Pokemon will spawn in different areas. Sometimes if you are close to water, you might spawn more water based Pokemon to capture for example. Once you locate a Pokemon, you have to throw a poke ball at it to capture it for your library. You do this by sliding your finger towards the Pokemon and throwing a poke ball at it. You can run out of poke balls, but those are obtained by visiting what are called Poke stops. Poke stops can be seen on the map and accessed when you get near them. These predetermined areas on your map can be accessed and the player will receive poke balls or other items that will enhance your Pokemon captures . 

Once you have a Pokemon captured, you will be able to power it up with items you collect from collecting multiple of the same race of Pokemon, or items from Poke Stops. Once you power your Pokemon up strong enough, you are able to go to gyms and fight them. Gyms are designated areas (just like poke stops). That allow you to use your strongest Pokemon to battle other players Pokemon’s. If you win that gym, then your Pokemon will receive awards (loot and coin) for holding it by not being defeated by others over a 24 hour period.

One thing you might hear your children, husbands or wives talk about are factions. Inside the game at level 5, you must select a faction to fight for. There are 3 factions. Yellow, Blue or Red. Yellow faction is called Team Instinct. Blue faction is Team Mystic and red is Team Valor. This is just like choosing a team to be on to fight other teams. Once you fight a Pokemon at the gym, the winners faction (yellow, blue or red) will run that gym. It will change the color of it on players maps so they will know what faction the gym is representing at that time. So as you can tell, this game makes players walk around areas hunting Pokemon’s, looking for items to power them up and finally fighting them after you have evolved and powered them up. 

I gave Pokemon a very low threat level due to the zero connectivity to other players. At this point, you cannot connect to social media or other players. There is no social side to this game other than running into other players as you are walking around in the real world collecting Pokemon. Remember that these poke stops and gyms remain in the same place, so people will learn where to watch for people playing Poke mon. No need to be overly paranoid, just be aware. Also, some Pokemon come out at night only, so make sure your children are not trespassing on property such as parks or recreation centers after hours. I have talked to several fellow Pokemon Go players as I am playing. There are future updates to add abilities to trade captured Pokemon to other Pokemon trainers. There will have to be some kind of digital communication for that part, but no updates has been released yet. 

As for the question I got asked about if it is safe to let my kids play, and just l teach with all apps, play with your kids. Download Pokemon Go and explore the world with something your child likes. My wife and children are all playing Pokemon together and are having fun with it (go team Mystic by the way). Pokemon is on the path to break a lot of records in the mobile gaming world and has already captured the top spot on app stores as the most popular app in July of 2016. This will be the first of more augmented reality apps and a new generation of Pokemon hunters. As the games slogan says ‘Catch them all’. Good luck in your hunting adventures, I must wrap this up now due to a Pikachu being in my area. It’s time to go hunt Pokemon. 

App description – pokeball, red white ball, star background, blue background, white, red, ball, red and white poke ball, Pikachu, 

Live.Me


App Review – Live Me

Threat Level – High


Live me is an app developed by KS mobile Inc. It appears from a quick search, this company has been involved with a handful of applications for iPhone and android devices. Their library consists of anything from picture collage editing apps to live video streaming apps. It appears they took a jab at the photo sharing app. Live me however being the one app it appears they have put the most time into for all the features available. 


Live me advertises itself as the number 1 way to watch live streaming videos with video chat. With the growth of the app by Twitter called Periscope and also Facebook live video status updates, now is the time to get on the mainstream media train when it comes to live streaming apps. People are wanting to stream their content live instead of posting videos or still images. We started seeing a turn when it comes to broadcasting where a lot of tv reports are now streaming all their media live on several different streaming platforms. 
As for Live me, it appears from the advertisements attempting to market to younger adults but it does have a 17 plus rating in the description of app in App Store. It says the plus 17 rating is for infrequently crude humor, mild profanity and mild sexual content. Also mature, suggestive scenes. I realize this is a generic description in the app comments on why it is a plus 17 rating, so remember this if a child tries to download this app to their device. 


This app after download has a lot of the familiar looks of other social media apps. Once an account is made and profile set with email address, you are ready to stream yourself live over the app. The style looks and has the feel of an Instagram or other photo sharing style apps. You can follow other people and be notified when they start a live stream. Once a live stream is started you can hear and see whatever they are streaming and are able to make comments, and share stickers at the bottom of the screen. They advertise pretty hard the fact that they want this to be the number streaming app for celebrities by advertising ‘Connect with the top stars and become the next big viral celebrity yourself’. The app also allows you to send hearts as people are streaming and also allows you to send comments that appear to float off your screen in attempt to get viewers of streamers attention. So basically this app is a mix of the more popular live streaming services in Facebook and Periscope. You can also search hashtags for different topics and search for more than 500,000 ways to explore the users. You can see who follows them or find new people to follow based off other users preferences. 


I gave this app a high threat level due to the app being able to love stream content. At the time of my download and review however I did not see any pornographic or x rated content from users. I am assuming the company puts filters on this type of content and monitors it closely. This app is however intended for adult use but with the growth of this style of live steaming style apps, I encourage you as parents to make sure what your children are streaming and why. You can look at your child’s account inside live.me either by following them with an account of your own or by seeing on their device they intend to stream from. Most importantly for this app or any live streaming app, monitor who they are following or who is following them.  As with anything live, you never know who might be on the other side of this app viewing. Remind your kids that once they put something out on an app or the internet, it is gone forever. People could use that against them. Stay safe with this one. Adults only for any live streaming content or monitored at every use by a parent. 

App description – star, purple, pink, tourquiose, purple star, pink star, purple and pink star, live, live streaming