When it comes to apps, I have a great appreciation for simplicity. Often, the most powerful ones are also the easiest to use and understand. If I need to be an engineer to find what I need when I tap an icon on my phone, chances are that app won't remain on my phone for long. After all, this is a tiny screen throwing a mountain of data at you all at once. It better get it right, and quickly.
Find sex offenders near you.
Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when I took a peek at the Texas Department of Public Safety's new app designed primarily for tracking sex offenders, most wanted criminals and human trafficking operations. Rather than trying to do everything, the Texas DPS app focuses in on these specific initiatives and, as a result, is extremely effective, albeit a tad on the uncomfortable side. No one really wants to know -- do they? -- that the guy down the street was once busted for public indecency, but if they are going to have that list, I suppose an app that makes those individual easier to find is a good thing.
So, naturally efore doing anything else, I immediately called up the sex offender registry and tapped the "near me" icon. On the map were color-coded pins where sex offenders were registered ranked by risk: none, low, medium and high. Tap an icon and get detailed information and photos about the offender. It was quick, easy and informative. Fortunately, there was only one guy in my neighborhood, a gentleman who had served a few years for having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 20. Now, around the Houston Press offices on the south side of downtown...well, let's just say I would recommend people remain indoors.More »