Developer Marinos Bernitsas’ Witness app has released today on the App Store, and it’s essentially a live-streaming app that will alert your emergency contacts when you’re in trouble using video footage, allowing them to “witness” the potential danger that you’re in.
Its concept is pretty terrifying, sure, but it’s undoubtedly (and regrettably) useful, allowing for video documentation of crimes whilst also allowing emergency contacts to view the location of the individual sending out an alert. It may seem like it’s an app solely designed for the paranoid, but in times when a 911 call simply won’t work, or when a potential crime could be prevented due to the threat of the criminal having his/her identity distributed online, it becomes clear that this is more than just a throwaway app for the perennially worried.
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Witness is billed by its creator as a “panic button for the smartphone age,” but in truth smartphones themselves have become panic buttons now, only without the functionality to be used as such. It seems like every other day a crime is recorded and uploaded to the Internet for the media and authorities to dissect and examine, but Witness implements the opportunity for any potential criminals to be caught in the act, rather than the footage of their crime being uploaded after the fact.
It should also be considered that this be another way to document and distribute examples of police brutality in the US, a growing issue that has gained more prominence due to civilians recording footage of incidents which has then been to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. However, with many of those claiming to be, or related to, victims of police brutality alleging that their smartphones have been confiscated by the authorities and the evidence they’ve collected being deleted, Witness offers a practical solution to this problem.
The app itself is no-frills, allowing you to add a selection of emergency contacts, offering you a preview of your phone’s camera and allowing you to press your device’s screen in order to send those contacts an alert, shooting them a text containing a link to follow in which they can watch your recording and view your location.
Basically, it’s an app that if you download it, you’ll hope you never have to use it. It’s creepy, yes, but as we grow more concerned about our safety as a society, it’ll certainly have its fair share of users.
You can download it on iTunes right here.