Need To Be Rescued While Hiking In The Alps? There's An App For That

Stuck LogoEven if you are into hiking the most challenging of terrains, wouldn’t it be comforting to know safety is only a click away? While the application “Stuck”, can be used for a variety of purposes, two people hiking in a mountainous national park in Sweden managed to find each other after being separated using the app. How’s that for a valued customer testimonial?

In terms of social usefulness, car insurance company Swiftcover’s Stuck app beats anything some of the bigger ‘geo-location apps’ offer — such as Foursquare and Booyah’s MyTown, which focus mostly on fun, lighter uses of location-based “check-in” status updates. (Just imagine what Stuck could be used for if Apple allows 3rd-party developers to integrate its iGroups mobile social networking features, especially for search and rescue operations.)

screen: Stuck iPhone app - globe

Unfortunately, a browse through “stuck” updates around the world (above), and also on the Stuck Facebook Fan Page, shows people posting mostly frivolous or even completely irrelevant updates. User updates range from the serious (stuck in major pileup – avoid if you can; car broke down – waiting for rescue) to the humorous (stuck in boring family situation). Que sera sera. If you prefer, you can skip the maps and see a timeline view of stuck updates. You can also choose category filters to have some control of what you browse, but there’s no keyword search to filter out nonsense. (Why would you want that? Potentially for search and rescue teams that cover a wide geographic area.)

If you plan to use Stuck, be careful. Anyone’s ‘stuck’ status updates can be shared by anyone else via email and Twitter.

screen: Stuck iPhone app -map, local

I found that the most interesting part of Stuck’s interface is their 3-ring radial category dials (below), which lets you very specifically tag what type of stuck status you want to post – especially if you’re using preset messages instead of adding your own. Just rotate each ring of choices with your finger. For example, the first ring (Category – broad) showsJourney, Place , In my head, Situation, and Politics. But as you rotate the first ring, the options in the inner two rings (Category – specific, and Feeling) change. This interface alone could be addictive (though the purple & yellow colors are a bit bright).

For your actual stuck status message, you can pick from one of the multiple preset choices (Stuck at work, Stuck in a meeting, etc.) or enter your own. Since you can share stuck statuses on Twitter, they’ve limited messages to 140 characters. As you enter characters in the message area, you’ll see a number displayed that tells you how many characters are left of the 140 allotment. I tried a test post to Stuck, and the location assigned is relatively accurate – as accurate as GPS can be, which I’ve seen indicated as 150 feet. Of course a drawback is that you do reveal your location — a social media activity which could raise your insurance rates — and you cannot delete your stuck status postings. Then again, you are willingly using a location-sharing application.

Now if you ever do get stuck in a difficult situation and need rescue, the obvious problem is if you’re outside your cellular provider’s coverage range and there are also no wireless networks nearby. However, if you’re planning on such adventures, you might plan on using Stuck every few hundred feet, with some unique keyword or hashtag, just to leave a trail in case you get lost. Hopefully a useful app such as Stuck will make its way onto other smartphones, in case the rumor that iPhone will a CDMA version in the USA is false.

Have you used Stuck or another mobile app like it? Do you think such apps are useful? Feel free to share in the comments.

[Sources: Mobile Ent, Swiftcover]