Clay-signal For IPhone?
February 13, 2014 1:44 AM   Subscribe

I need an app for the IPhone that will allow my partner to press a single button to send me a pre-written text message or pre-determined photo. This will be a sort of personalized Bat Signal (we'll call it "The Clay Signal") and will let me know that she needs my attention.

My partner sometimes needs attention from me but, because of anxiety or other issues, doesn't text me. For Valentine's day, I'd like to install on her phone an app that's kind of like the bat-signal, except that it summons me instead of Bruce Wayne. Sure, the problems that prevent her from texting might also prevent her from Clay Signaling. But (1.) we've found that she can often say things in a blog post or an email that she can't in person, in a text conversation, or over the phone, so I'm hoping that this is another case where the medium makes a difference and (2.) it's just as important to reassure her that I'm always going to be there when she needs me as it is to get her to actually send a signal.

(Yeah, there are probably some issues here we should both work on. But that's for another day. This is Valentine's day, damnit.)

In my imagination, this is how it works. When we install the app, we designate a particular photo, text, or combination thereof as "The Clay Signal." Then, whenever my partner presses the app's icon, that signal will be sent instantly to me, via SMS. She won't even see the regular texting app or The Clay Signal itself. The app would just reassure her that I have been contacted.

I can spend up to, say, 15 or 20 bucks on this.

Does such a thing exist? If so, where do I find it?
posted by Clay201 to Technology (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Fast Text is close to what you're asking for, but not quite right. Maybe it'll do if no one has a better suggestion? The developer hosts a popular tech podcast and has mentioned that he's updating the app to look a bit more modern.

Alternately, I wonder if someone can/has created a web app to do this?
posted by griseus at 2:05 AM on February 13, 2014

I wonder whether Boop might do, if you set it to auto-send a message when launched. There are quite a few "emergency" ones but I think they'd just make things seem even worse.
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:09 AM on February 13, 2014

This sounds like something that might be done with If This, Then That, but I'm not sure. I believe they do have an iPhone app.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 4:08 AM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

It also seems like it would be possible to do this with a bookmark to a specially-coded webpage.
posted by box at 4:39 AM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

It might be worth contacting a custom app developer. I don't think it would take much time to create an app that is one button that sends a message, although it still will probably cost over $20.
posted by unreasonable at 5:22 AM on February 13, 2014

I would take a look at Canned or Launch Center Pro. Neither will be as completely one-touch-and-then-hands-off as you're looking for but they might get you enough of the way there to be helpful to her.
posted by bcwinters at 5:53 AM on February 13, 2014

I think that Launch Center Pro comes very close to what you are looking for. It will allow you to send user-defined preset messages to a preset contact, but requires two taps, rather than one.

You could have half a dozen preset messages for her to choose from, plus a 'call my partner' action, plus a few other things, all on one screen, however.
posted by danteGideon at 6:03 AM on February 13, 2014

I have wanted this also, but have never taken the time to actually look for it. I'm also an app developer. If it turns out that it actually doesn't exist it might be something we would do. It wouldn't be very difficult.
posted by alms at 6:21 AM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Apps can't send texts/photos using imessage, so there isn't going to be something exactly like what you want.

What you really want is an app that sends a push notification to you when she presses the button. And for that, I recommend you both install Viber (free!) and just have her send you a specific stamp, and that's all you use it for. It would be relatively easy [open app, press the sticker, press send].
posted by bbqturtle at 6:22 AM on February 13, 2014

I think a better idea would be to try to find a pager and have her use that.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:24 AM on February 13, 2014

Do you also have an iPhone? I know the iPhone SMS/text client uses some emoticons that don't render on other applications. Even if you have another brand of smart phone, there are a ton of strange and nigh-meaningless emoticons that are bundled with chat and text apps, and if you both agree on something having meaning then viola! Short-hand for "I need help." You can even use different emoticons for different types of issues.

Skype specifically brought this to mind, as they have a ton of weird ones, like Toivo, whose "signature" on the Skype Forum was "Dog ate my headset"

Otherwise, you can do the super-basic pseudo-pager move: she can call you and hang up before you answer. Of course, this could get confusing if her phone accidentally dials you.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:24 AM on February 13, 2014

I'm thinking a little outside the box, but is this similar to the way that a shortcut on your home screen will automatically dial your phone number when you press it? Can a text message (instead of a voice call) be set up as the object of a speed-dial or shortcut?
posted by CathyG at 9:53 AM on February 13, 2014

Also, I just googled "iphone app Help I've fallen and I can't get up" and there are lots of hits of articles and recommended apps. I wonder if one of those would work or could be customized to your needs.

(edit: now that I've actually read some of the links, it looks like it might not be what you are looking for. One of them is actually a forum to collect funny youtube videos, using that poor woman on the floor as a the poster child of funniness. Sorry)
posted by CathyG at 9:55 AM on February 13, 2014

More possibilities (I'm not sure why this question has sparked my interest):

Here is a list of apps dealing with sending predefined text messages. You might look through and see if any of them can save the preset message as a shortcut on the home screen; otherwise, you end up having to open the app and press 1-2 buttons to make it go.
posted by CathyG at 10:16 AM on February 13, 2014

Hi Clay! Not sure this is a solution, as it does require one to open the text app, but on an iphone you can go settings>general>keyboard> and scroll down to shortcuts. You can make the shortcut any length, but if it's not at least two letters long it will spawn every time you type that character, so I use two repeated characters. I set up "xx" to enter my name and cell phone in a message. So all I have to do to append that info to a text is type xx. Also works in notepads, emails, etc.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:27 PM on February 13, 2014

After more research, I'm fairly certain that it's not possible to do exactly what you want. Apple requires that you present the SMS composition interface before sending a text message (see the Apple docs for details. Further details in the callout box marked 'important' at the top of this page).

So while I can write you an app that will load up an SMS composition screen with pre-set recipient and contents, as far as I can tell your SO will still need to press send before it, well, sends. Sorry.
posted by danteGideon at 7:30 AM on February 18, 2014

So it looks like actually sending a text will be hard because of apple restrictions. What about having an app that sends an email. Many carriers have a special email address format that will get forwarded to you as a text message.

Bookmark on ios homepage -> sends email -> email gets forwarded to your phone as a text.
posted by vegetableagony at 3:03 PM on February 25, 2014

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