Tokn - The personal safety app now available for Android

We're excited to be able to announce the launch of Tokn for Android, and it is available right now on the Google Play Store. Tokn has been keeping thousands of iPhone users safer all around the world for some time now, and now we can extend the same experience to millions of Android users.

To achieve this we decided to rebuild Tokn in a way that would allow us to provide a near-identical experience on both platforms, and while doing this we've made our app easier to use.

We responded to feedback and allowed users to set a Tokn using a time duration (a number of minutes, or hours). Just click on the new duration icon to use this feature:




The Tokn activation form remembers your duration entry the next time you use it, as well as the notes and your choice of buddy, enabling you to set a Tokn with only 2 clicks. This is great for users that repeatedly use Tokn for the same activity. And, don't worry, you can still activate Tokn by setting an expiry time if you prefer - just click the clock icon.


Tokn on BBC Click


Tokn was featured on the BBC News 'Click' technology show yesterday.

Check out the feature on the Tokn App here (the Tokn bit starts 45 seconds in). We are all very excited about being featured!

Always leave a note to say where you've gone

A scene from the Film 127hrs
Aron Ralston was a cocksure solo adventurist who loved the outdoors, and he hated telling anyone where he was going. This was nearly his downfall as he left home alone on this day in 2003, only to become trapped under a rock in a slot canyon the middle of nowhere for several days. He only escaped by severing his own arm with a blunt penknife.

Aron lived in an apartment on his own, so leaving a post-it note on the fridge wouldn't really have helped much. For Aron, letting someone know where he was going would have involved a phonecall to his mum. Clearly not cool.

Had smartphones existed in 2003, Tokn would have fulfilled Aron's needs for adventure, mystery and spontaneity, but would still have sought help for him when he needed it. Our servers would have sent a text message to Aron's mum, friend, boss, whatever, (we call them your 'buddy') saying where he was and what he said he was doing only if by Sunday evening he didn't tell us he was back - by de-activating his Tokn.

With Tokn, Aron would have maintained the privacy and solitude he needed, but safe in the knowledge that if he didn't make it back someone would know where and when to look for him. For 99% of his trips no-one would need to know what he was up to.

Nowadays Aron always leaves a note to say where he has gone. We're told of this, in a slightly "let this be a lesson" tone, at the end of the movie 127 Hours. But what a good lesson it is.

Remember, if you're into outdoor sports or activities and you do it solo, ALWAYS leave a note.

A good lesson - "He always leaves a note to say where he has gone"

No battery? No network? No worries. We've still got your back.

We sometimes get asked what happens if your phone loses network or battery while you're out. To put it simply, it doesn't matter.

When you checkout a Tokn you're giving our servers (think big, secure computers always connected to the internet) all the information they need to carry out their duty at the right time - to alert your nominated buddy that you may need help. The text message we send to your buddy is sent from our server, not from your phone. The note you left and your location when you left it are also stored on our server, so we have everything we need to keep you safe.

From the outset we knew that we didn't want to build an app that tracked your location - we don't want to use up battery power when you might be needing it most, and we believe that a start location and a textual note is sufficient for all outdoor activities. In the future we might consider introducing optional location updates for users that want it. These would come with a warning about battery usage and would have optional triggers such as infrequent time intervals or a shake of the phone.

But whatever plans we have for Tokn we will always ensure that regardless of what happens to your phone we will still get that message to your buddy.

Keeping you safe if you're online dating

This is the first in what may be a long series of posts about the many uses for Tokn.

If you use an online dating service then you'll hopefully be familiar with the rules of the road about staying safe for your first meeting. Most importantly, the internet dating industry advises that you should:

  • get to know the other person before meeting them
  • meet and stay in a public place
  • always tell someone where you're going and who you're seeing

But wait...that last one - tell someone where you're going and who you're seeing - is too often ignored. You might not want to tell your best friend or your family that you're meeting for a date. You could be vague about the detail, but that would defy the point because if something were to happen it's the detail that might get you out of trouble.

We realised while we were building our Tokn app that first dates or early dates would be an ideal scenario for our technology. With Tokn if you're going on a first date you can leave a detailed note about where you're going and who you're seeing. It could contain locational information too, using the GPS in your phone. You leave the note with us, you tell us who it's for, and you tell us what time you'll be back. All in a few easy clicks.

Crucially, we only send the note if you don't get back to us when you said you would. Your phone will remind you several times that you need to checkin with us, but if you don't, then we'll send a text message to your 'buddy' (that's what we call them - it could be your best friend, mom, dad etc) with a link to show them your note and your location when you left it.

Tokn allows you to stay safe and maintain your privacy at the same time when you're meeting someone new. It's quick, effortless and costs less than a cup of coffee.

So what is Tokn?

Here's a bland dictionary-like entry for what Tokn actually is:

Tokn [  /ˈtəʊk(ə)n/ , Token]: an iPhone (and soon Android) app. Enables users to leave a textual note with location information and an expected time of return on a remote server. If the server has not received notification from the user that they are safe by the time of return, then a text message (SMS) is sent to the phone of a previously nominated buddy. The text message contains a link to a private webpage which reveals the location and the contents of the note. Users can optionally share their activities on social networks or on the Tokn map.

We were asked this question many times while we were designing and building this app - a process that took several months. It proved difficult to describe in a pithy way, so we gave up trying to answer and decided instead to leave the inquisitor in the dark until we had a website to show them.

We think the website makes sense, but what's difficult to convey without boring the user with too much copy, is the number of potential uses this thing has.

An image speaks a thousand words, and in our case there is one particular type of image that helps explain what we do, and we're soon to use this as a core 'screenshot' on the app store:



The images achieve much with little - everyone understands the idea of leaving a note for one's own safety, and this has some locational information along with it too.

The key differences between using Tokn and leaving a real note with someone is that it's easier to use Tokn, you can leave a note anywhere, and importantly the other person doesn't get the note unless they need to. This is great for many users for many reasons.

Take Aron Ralston for instance. He's cited by my co-founder Richie as the inspiration behind Tokn. Aron Ralston was a confident, cocksure solo adventurist who loved the outdoors. He hated telling anyone where he was going. This was nearly his downfall as he became trapped under a rock in the middle of nowhere for days and only escaped by severing his own arm with a blunt penknife. He lived in an apartment on his own, so leaving a post-it note on the fridge wouldn't have helped. For Aron, letting someone know where he was going would have involved a phonecall to his mum. Clearly not cool.

Tokn would have solved this problem for Aron. Our servers would have told Aron's mum where he was and what he said he was doing only if he didn't make it back by Sunday evening and tell our servers he was back - by de-activating his Tokn. With Tokn, Aron would have maintained the privacy, mystery, solitude and coolness he needed, but safe in the knowledge that if he didn't make it back someone would know where and when to look for him.

Nowadays Aron always leaves a note to say where he has gone. We're told of this, in a slightly "let this be a lesson" tone, at the end of the movie 127 Hours. But what a good lesson it is, and let's hope we see him using Tokn soon.



And how about that example above in the London taxi? If you've been out till late you may not want to wake up your loved one by texting them you've got into a cab. No problem, just let Tokn know. If you don't deactivate your Tokn when you said you would (20 minutes in this example) then we'll send the message.

Another prime example is internet dating. If you're off out to meet that guy you've been chatting to for a while you'd better let someone know who you're seeing and where. But what if you want it to be kept private? Use Tokn. We'll only let someone know if you don't make it back in time.

I could go on and on about the uses for Tokn. Extreme sports are obvious and the prospect of sharing/bragging/mapping your activities and perhaps reporting on conditions (snow, surf) is exciting for us. But there are hundreds of more mundane professions and situations that could use Tokn. Lone workers such as district nurses, healthcare workers, any kind of domestic callers, real estate agents, farmers, even teachers. People simply walking home alone at night. Solo travellers. Drivers embarking on cross-desert journeys. Teenagers staying over at friends' houses. People threatened in their own homes by the prospect of domestic violence. Motorcyclists on a solo Sunday blast.

The list is lengthy, and I'll be mentioning a few in more detail on this blog over the coming months. As Tokn's user base grows we'd love to hear examples of how people are using it, so please do email us at hello@toknapps.com

This is Tokn

After a year long fettle and a bit of brilliantly collaborative feature creep, version 1 Tokn and Tokn Surf has now gone live on the Apple App Store.

The go live was a deliberately quiet affair, what techs and marketing types like to call a soft launch. This gives us a chance to gently grow the userbase and learn a bit about usage and interface improvements along the way.



Thanks to all who have wished us well so far and already provided some useful feedback. We had beta testers located from Bristol all the way to Sydney. One Tokn user popped up near Cupertino rather near to Apple's HQ which was particularly exciting.

This for us is the start of a fun journey and the development of something we hope will start to make a real difference to people.

Who knows what Tokn will be used for along the way which is why we launched with a 'vanilla' non niche version so as to not pigeon hole usage.

The surf focused version was to see how the app performed in a more niche context.  After all, surfers were one of the first groups to utilise the World Wide Web to access deep ocean Buoy data in the early 90’s to help predict the surf and utilised user net newsgroups long before Zuckerberg had even left high school.

Surfing can be an innately solo sport, much like extreme canyoning, so it seemed like a logical first niche. Next up will be a snow version which we hope will protect those powder shredders out there.

So, go grab a version of the app while it’s still free on the App Store and let us know how you get on.

See you outback / on the trail or just popping up on the radar feature of the app.