iOS 17’s Check In Feature Provides Peace of Mind and Could Even Save Lives

Originally published at: iOS 17’s Check In Feature Provides Peace of Mind and Could Even Save Lives - TidBITS

Glenn Fleishman explores iOS 17’s new Check In feature, which lets you specify someone as a temporary safety partner who can confirm you got where you intended to to go. It’s a welcome addition to Apple’s collection of features aimed at increasing personal safety.


I would like to thank Adam for his fine editing work on this and collaboration. I wrote this but he went above and beyond in working to make sure we had it well illustrated and helped me test a few things that turned out a little differently than I had thought! Thanks, Adam!


Available in New Zealand

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Apparently it is NOT available in Argentina. Tried to check-in with my daughter and it gave me error

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My daughter is in college several hours away, and is a runner. As a Dad, I’m very pleased with Apple’s work on CheckIn 1.0, but already I see a need for a new feature. It would be nice for her to be able to set up a running route and send an alert if she diverges substantially from her planned route and also to check in when she gets back to her dorm.

With 1.0, she can’t set her dorm as her destination and then move away from the dorm and expect CheckIn to know what she’s doing. Also, her route isn’t necessarily the shortest or fastest route from point A to point B and back, so she can’t enter point B, run there, then put her dorm in again and run back.

Question: Is there a third-party product that will address these concerns?

I have used Glympse for years as a tracker when I’m out biking. I’ve got an older version and I’m not sure if newer versions allow you to upload things like running routes. I’ve been able to send people a Glympse with my ETA so they could see where I was and how long until I arrived. It’s worth looking at since it’s free.

If your daughter uses a Garmin device, they also have tracking built into them and I know my Garmin allows for route uploads. I just use the simple tracking feature - when I start recording my ride, it sends a text with a link to follow me. I don’t know if they get a text saying I’ve completed my workout but again my device is a few years old.


That is a great thought. Again, I know it’s one of those edge situations—a billion runs (or more) happen a year and only a tiny percentage end in disaster, but when you factor in injury and just personal reassurance…well, it seems like an obvious use case.

I just dug around a little, and it looks like there are apps that will send you a live position but I’m not finding one designed for a course or planned.

Thanks for the detailed and useful article, guys.

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As the dad of a daughter who ran xc and track in college, I would have loved this. (I’m not sure she would have agreed at the time.)

I think that Map My Run can do this. I’m not sure if it can do this from an Apple Watch when you are not carrying an iPhone, but from a carried iPhone, yes. I’ve often used the web site to map out runs when I travel, so it’s also great for that part of of it.

This isn’t quite what you want, but might help.

Speaking as a runner, I think it would be hard to set a route for every run and adhere to it. What happens if you feel good/bad and change the route, or there’s a bridge closed that forces a reroute, or you meet a friend and decide to join them for a longer run, or you roll an ankle and walk back a shorter way? Notifying you in such situations might cause you stress, particularly if it happened frequently, for no real win.

So the Strava Beacon sounds like a good compromise, since it’s available whenever the person is running, but isn’t freaking out if they deviate from a route.

More to the point of the article, your daughter could set a timer Check In for the likely length of the run. You don’t need to know where she is unless she doesn’t check in at the end, and then it would give you full details. That might be equally effective.

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One thing this seems to be missing is ‘cycling’ as a travel option when choosing a destination, which is going to leave out a lot of people in cities. In many cases, the travel time would be similar to car (often significantly less in London and Edinburgh!), but the route would be quite different, closer to ‘walking’, in places that have routes where cars are prohibited.

Apple’s made pretty much no progress on increasing coverage of cycling directions in Maps, I assume because they hand tune the algorithms for each supported city. But they need to figure out how to do this at scale – I would love to see them build on the excellent route planning Cyclestreets offers (which is already generally better than Apple’s in the cities Maps supports). There are a lot of places where a significant portion of the population cycle as a means of general transport, and they are not well served by Maps, and now also not well served by what could be a great feature.


I find myself ambivalent about this Check In feature. On the one hand it seems useful for reducing anxiety; on the other, it seems like automation that will cause more false alarms than positives.

For someone like me who has turned off all notifications of any kind save the two or three most vital it’s just another on the pile that seems to require even more fussing and should be ignored.

Thinking about the running example mentioned above I can remember running cross country in the seventies and I don’t think my parents or friends ever heard about whether I crossed the threshhold of my dorm room at 5:57pm. I don’t think they heard about it ever. They did hear about shin splints. . . .


Yes, as a teen and young man in my twenties I could disappear for hours or days, even weeks, different times. But, just to say it, it’s different for women, especially young women. My daughter, now in College, away from a village and in a big city, shares her location with her family but also, on the fly, with her new friends, when out on runs, or trips to the city. Women have long had systems of check ins, informal and otherwise. This seems like a welcome addition, I’ve shown my family how to use Glympse, indeed I use it while hillwalking near here, accidents easily happen on the mix of bog and rock that we live upon.


I’ll be trying this for sure with my wife. I generally manually text when I arrive somewhere but we’ll see how this works.

Once I get my parents both updated to iOS 17, I’m really looking forward to evangelizing them on Check In. My 76-year-old father goes out in the woods alone to cut firewood sometimes, and while he’s really good at it, accidents happen, and it would be quite some time before my mother thought he’d been gone too long.

There are issues with the Check In notifications, since he takes his hearing aids out while using the chainsaw, and the Apple Watch haptic notifications would undoubtedly be lost in the saw vibration. But if the worst case was that my mother got worried and went out to look for him (or at least listen for the saw, which can be heard a long ways away), that’s a small price to pay.

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I’ve had many editors in a decades-long journalism career. Who’s the best one? There’s a strong case to be made for Adam.


This is something I’d like to investigate for my twenty-something kids. They don’t like mum and dad hassling them and they’re not very reliable when told to “let us know when you arrive”. The issue will be getting them to set it up.

It would be cool if was possible for a shortcut to set one up using a destination in their maps app and a pre-defined time buffer.

You track your adult children? Do they have disabilities, or problems you haven’t mentioned? If not, it’d seem they’re well beyond that level of monitoring. Unless you actually mean you have more than 20 kids, which is a whole other thing for which you have my sympathy.

How did you extrapolate wanting to know they safely arrive somewhere as tracking? No, we don’t track our children - we show normal parental concern when they’re going places like bush walking, rock climbing, adventuring or traveling to places they’ve never been before - all of which they regularly do.

I’d use it with my wife when I go bush walking, diving, ocean swimming or climbing - all of which I regularly do.

Their age certainly doesn’t dictate my concern for their well-being. Do you think once they turn 20 I shouldn’t be concerned for their welfare? Strange …

Your original observation that Dana was responding to was sort of generic and I found it odd, too. Absolutely, if the kids are out adventuring this would be a great feature and the easier it can be set-up the better (because 20s).


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