FutureFive NZ - Android App Review: Aspire News

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Android App Review: Aspire News

This week I’m looking at something a touch more serious than the usual app I review. Aspire News is a free app that aims to make it easier for the victims of domestic abuse to get help safely.

On the surface Aspire News appears to be the bland news-and-entertainment app its name would suggest. Headlines, a photo, a brief synopsis. But in below the news categories is the Help menu, which is something else entirely.

Rather than helping you with your news and entertainment app, this menu is about helping you out of dangerous, abusive situations.

The Help section has two categories: Get Help and Get Educated. Get Educated provides you with a series of links to articles and information about domestic abuse and the things you can do to prevent it.

The Get Help section has contact details for American support services that can help people in domestic violence situations, or offer advice and information to those around them.

Additionally, you can use this section to set up a distress signal which can be sent, including your current location, to someone that you trust. This is done by just tapping three times on the app’s toolbar, and offers a way for someone to call for help without making it obvious that they’ve done so (something that could potentially make a violent situation worse).

(On the Google Play store they add this disclaimer which I think I should repeat here: This app does not serve as a replacement for emergency services—in any situation where you feel that you may be at risk, please dial 911 or your local emergency number.)

There are some nice touches that have been added in to the app. For example, when looking at the help section you can tap the x at the top and the app will immediately take you to a random news page.

Not everyone who is in a position to need this information will be able to safely look at it with other people around, so the app has worked hard to make it as safe and innocuous as possible.

On the other hand though, there are a few technical glitches here and there. I found that I had trouble scrolling through the articles, which isn’t such a big deal when you’re looking at the pretend news feed, but is more problematic when you’re trying to get information from the Help Section.

Besides that, my main criticism would be how America-centric the app is. While some of its resources are useful to anyone in need, the contact numbers are all for US support services. Aspire News doesn’t claim to be universally applicable, but I’d love to see regional versions that had more localised details.

However, at least some of the information in the Get Educated section will be relevant to those outside the States, and the three-tap distress signal is a really great idea wherever you are. Getting help to people who need it is crucially important, and if this app can make that easier then it’s something worth supporting.

Contact details for NZ support services can be found here:
NZ Emergency Services: 111
Women’s Refuge Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
The Campaign for Action on Family Violence: 0800 456 450

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