Today we are launching Parachute 4.0. Parachute 4.0 is the largest update to Parachute we’ve ever shipped. So let’s get right to it.
Parachute 4.0 launches one of our most highly requested features — Siri integration. You can now record a voice shortcut that, when spoken to Siri, will activate Parachute and start a new incident. For example, you can activate Parachute simply by saying “Hey Siri, Activate Parachute”. Siri will launch the app and start a new incident. Your voice shortcut can be anything you want, like “Mayday”, “Code Red”, “SOS”, or a special phrase that means something only to you so you can activate Parachute discreetly. And you can set up as many voice shortcuts as you like.
When you activate Parachute, your emergency contacts are alerted of your incident by phone, text, and email. But some times you may want to reach a broader audience beyond your emergency contacts. Parachute 4.0 can automatically post your live Parachute incident to your Twitter. You set up the tweet you would like sent out ahead of time, and then whenever you activate Parachute, that tweet along with the link to your live incident will be automatically sent out. For a long time, we’ve offered the ability for our Parachute for Organizations users to have their incident automatically posted to social media and other platforms. Today, we are opening up Twitter posting to everyone.
Phone Alert lets you record the alert your emergency contacts will hear when Parachute calls them. So instead of the generic Parachute alert, they can now hear your own personal alert, in your own voice. Last year, we launched the Emergency Notes section, which lets you type in notes that will be released to your emergency contacts when you activate Parachute. Phone Alert takes this a step further, and lets you customize the alert they will hear when Parachute calls them. This lets your emergency contacts hear your voice even if at the time of the incident you are not able to speak. And this also lets you record the alert in your own language.
Just like Emergency Notes, you can use this to give your emergency contacts information that’s specific to you, so they can best help at the time of the emergency. It is common to include medical information here, as well as instructions that can be useful at the time of the incident. What’s fascinating is that some users have used this as a way to release information to their emergency contacts that they would only want them to have in the event of an emergency, like passwords to their social media accounts or the passcode to their phone. This can be critical in helping others retrace your steps and try to piece things together.
Siri, Twitter and Phone Alert are advanced features and we wanted to give them a home that would not make the app too complicated or intimidating for a first-time user. To achieve that, we have introduced a new section in Settings called “Add-Ons” that lets you add any of these to Parachute. There are also two more Add-Ons that will be available in an upcoming update that we wanted to give a sneak preview today: Emergency Services and Front Camera.
Emergency Services lets you request emergency services to your location, like 911 in the US. Through Parachute, first responders get your location with much higher accuracy than when you place a phone call to them. And they get crystal-clear audio, which includes background sounds that are filtered out in a regular phone call. Our 911 system was designed in the 1960’s for landlines, and it has failed to keep up with the smartphone age. The FCC estimates that every year, 10,000 lives are lost because of its limitations. With the Emergency Services add-on we’re giving first responders the best possible data they can get so they can focus on what they do best: saving lives.
Front Camera lets you use the front camera instead of the back camera during an incident. The need for this came after hearing from taxi and rideshare drivers who wanted to use Parachute for emergencies happening inside their car. They tell us the most common issues are someone getting in and refusing to leave, or someone refusing to pay. Because their phone is typically mounted on the dashboard, the back camera is not useful. Front Camera addresses this issue, by capturing the inside of the car instead. And it’s much more respectful of passengers’ privacy than a passenger camera that’s on 24x7.
Email us if you would like early access to either of these Add-Ons.
Parachute 4.0 will now show you the live status of every alert that goes out. This lets you know exactly what Parachute is doing, and react accordingly if there are any issues. When you hold down the eye to check on the status of a live incident, you will now see how many emails and text messages have been delivered, and how many phone calls have been picked up and completed. Parachute has always kept a clear log of every action it takes in the Contact Events section of the incident. But this meant that you would have to wait until after the incident was over to check on the alert status. Now, you can see exactly what it’s doing while the incident is in progress.
Parachute 4.0 improves the video picture quality by up to 270%. The improved sharpness of the video will be especially noticeable in low light situations and situations where there is a lot of movement, which happen frequently when you’re recording emergencies. And we’ve done all this while actually using less bandwidth than before, which means less data to be sent out during the emergency.
While Parachute has always been able to text virtually any number in the world, calling was limited to 43 countries. Today, we are adding 76 new countries to this list, including every one of our 10 most highly requested countries: Colombia, the Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Myanmar and Egypt. This makes Parachute capable of calling a total of 119 countries.
If you are an existing user of Parachute, Parachute 4.0 is a free upgrade for you. Thank you for your trust, love and support through our early days.
If you are downloading Parachute for the first time and you are not part of an organization, a simple all-inclusive monthly subscription is required to use Parachute 4.0. We provide you with a free one-month trial to try out Parachute and see if it’s right for you. A Parachute subscription includes unlimited everything: unlimited emergency contacts, unlimited alerts, unlimited streaming and lifetime evidence storage as long as your subscription is active. And because we like doing things the way they’re supposed to be, we are offering something that we haven’t seen before in an app. We are offering a money back guarantee: if Parachute crashes in an emergency, you get back everything you’ve paid us in the past year.
Parachute brought emergency livestreaming to the world in 2015, and since then we’ve been on a relentless pursuit of the best, fastest and most reliable technology for the most critical moments of our lives. Parachute already does so much more than anything else out there and charging a simple all-inclusive subscription lets us push forward even further.
We are so excited to release Parachute 4.0 and we can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Some of these features are the result of months of research, fine-tuning and field testing, and today they get to see the light of the world.
Now on our 4th year, it’s amazing to think of how far Parachute has come. All around the world, people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities rely on Parachute every single day. We are so honored by your trust and we promise to keep pushing the boundaries of technology to make the world a safer place. It’s been an amazing 4 years, and here’s to many more.
Parachute texts, calls and emails your friends and loved ones and sends them your live video, audio and location in the event of an emergency. Marinos is an Engineer at Parachute based in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org