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

You Now

App Review – You Now

Threat Level – Very High

YouNow is an app developed by a company named YouNow incorporated and launched back in spring of 2016. This app is available on all the major mobile markets and is free download. This app does however have subscription service for 4.99 a month that can be billed directly to your iTunes account and iTunes subscriptions. The paid service unlocks other features and let’s you connect and find more people to live broadcast yourself with along with adding stickers, more chat features and access to broadcasters replays. 


You now could be described as a mix between you tube and going Facebook Live. This app let’s you create an account with an email address, and go live by streaming whatever you are doing via your devices camera. They advertise this app as a way to express yourself and share with others your artistic side such as singing or broadcasting what you are currently doing. You can also search for others who are currently broadcasting live, and with a active subscription view replays of their live broadcasts. Once inside one of these live views streaming, you may comment on videos and read others comments or participate in a live chat with the creators of the live stream and their viewers. You can also select the people you enjoy following the most. You can also be notified when they go live. Or replay the videos they have streamed and created in the past. 


With a lot of streaming service features being added to social networks like Facebook and Periscope (owned by twitter) you are going to start seeing more and more of this kind of content. Live streaming is dangerous for kids for two reasons. One, being live if they make a mistake and say something or do something, there is no way to get it back or have removed. The content has already been shared. Also from the viewing side of the app, I have already found from researching the app that some content with strong language or very edgy content that I would not want my children to be viewing. 


A lot of kids want to be seen or be the popular one and stand out in their circle of friends. Make sure they are not doing this at the expense of their own safety or putting content out that parents would not approve just to be “popular” or to go “viral”. Live streaming features will continue to grow inside apps that are already out as well as new ones on the horizon. Be aware of this trend. 

App Description – green, now, white letters, now, like, like green, green with white, green white, green and white

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

Animal Jam

App Review – Animal Jam
Threat Level – Low and Moderate


Animal Jam is a gaming app made by Wildworks incorporated along with endorsements from National Geograpic. Wildworks has also been involved in the creation of two other gaming apps called Tunnel Town and AJ jump. Both being animal themed games. Animal Jam is described at a game for ages 9 plus. The app is free but does offer in app purchases from .99 to 4.99. Like many gaming apps they want to offer the main product for free but still make some money from the in app purchases. Animal Jam is categorized under the gaming apps but does have some social ties once inside game. 

Once you download Animal Jam, you are asked to start new or login to your animal jam account. Animal jam has and is also available on the Via a web browser. Once you select to start new, you are dumped into character selection where you will have to choose one of the 3 animals. Bunny, Monkey or wolf. At this point you are able to do basic customization to your newly selected character. The first step is picking a name. You must select from the names in the provided window which is good because it does not allow users to customize in appropriate names. Now you are ready to enter your character into the Animal Jam game. One interesting, educational part of game is how it gives the player real life animal facts as the game screens are loading. 

Once in game, your character can run around and visit different locations. In this lobby style world is where you can see other players that are running around like you are. These are other players that have created characters like yourself. I noticed at this point, there are some chat options. When I hit the chat button, it gave me generic pre determined chat boxes such as ‘Hi there’ or ‘Goodbye’. It would not let me type any custom messages as a guest. If you want to type custom messages, you must create an account. 

If you decide to create an account, this will pull in the more social side of game and allow you to create friends list and communicate more openly with other players. There does appear to be some chat filters that won’t let users type certain things. On a side note, while reviewing app, I never got or seen any in appropriate messages. I kind of got hooked on some of the game elements and played this app for a couple days. If the chat features worry you, just never have them create an account to go fully open and then the chat is just predetermined chat bubbles. They will need a parents email address for registering anyway, so you will know if they create an account. Also while reading reviews of this app, I noticed a couple people staying they didn’t like having their accounts suspended for 24 hours for using curse words. This shows Animal Jam has moderators for their game and obviously enforce inappropriate behavior. 

Animal Jam is bright colored, fun game that encourages leveling up your different animals with challenging games. The added sponsorship from National Geographic helps keep the game safe. Scoring this threat level on this game would be two different scores. If you play game without creating your own account then I would give this app a low threat level. Once you create account to open more of social aspect, it would bump it to moderate. Mainly due to the open chat. Just monitor your children while they play this one occasionally or play with them to keep an eye on who they are playing with. The educational tips from the National Geographic animal side is a nice bonus. Anytime we can educate children inside s video game, the better.  


Keywords- animal, fox, blue fox, animal crossing, animal games, fox, smiling fox, happy fox, AJ