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New app lets friends, family keep an eye on you

Worried about getting home after a big college party or a wild night on the town?

Well, a new app called Companion has you covered. It lets you ask someone you trust to virtually walk you home, with the help of a GPS tracker and an online map. The app can also alert police or your contact person if it senses trouble.

"It is a tracking device. It's Uber for you," Newyorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson told "CBS This Morning."

"You say I'm walking from here to here. I'll put in the address and it'll figure it out on the map. Then, we'll send a message, a text message, to my contacts maybe my wife or to a friend," he said. "A friend or my wife will be able to open a browser and see where I'm walking and see if I've deviated from the path or whether I'm on schedule."

Thompson said the app design by university students would start to beep "if I start to run, the head phones get ripped out" or the phone falls to the ground.

"It makes it very easy to call 911, and it also has a feature where you can say I'm feeling really nervous," he said. "That will send a message to one of your friends. It is a way to have someone accompany you, track you and make sure you're OK in a dangerous situation. It's a very smart idea for an app and it works pretty well."

But unlike similar apps in the past, both parties don't need to have downloaded it.

"That's the smart thing about the app," Thompson said. "This allows for only one person to download the app and it will send you a text message to keep track of you. It makes it much easier to start up. This is one of the first apps in a while that people are really talking about."

Although the app was made by college students, primarily for college students, Thompson said the benefits should go well beyond the university.

"It makes a lot of sense for me with my kids," he said. "If my wife wants to know where we are, make sure everything is OK. You can image a scenario with my parents. I want to make sure they didn't get lost. You can see lots of people using this in lots of ways."

Thompson said he didn't see any privacy concerns, since users have the option of turning it on. "The privacy stuff I worry about more is the stuff that goes on in the background, the big mass apps where you don't know they are collecting all your data," he said.

But he admitted the app isn't without potential problems or controversy. The beeping, for example, could be a confusing if you are out playing with your children, start running around and then your wife gets a beep warning of trouble, he said. The nervous feature could also be misconstrued as identifying bad neighborhoods that may not be so bad.

"There is one feature that is a little controversial and it's the I'm feeling nervous feature," he said. "So people walking around campus and they say I'm feeling nervous or walking around a city. That could have virtues. Right, cops could say a lot of people said they felt nervous there. But you could also see people saying everyone says they are nervous by my house and now we are getting a lot of police attention. That is annoying."

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