For lots of parents, the start of autumn means cooler weather and the inevitable return of All Things Pumpkin Spiced. But ask most kids what their favorite thing is about fall, and they’ll likely tell you it’s dressing up and treat or treating. While little goblins and ghouls may dream of snagging full-sized candy bars from neighbors and friends on Halloween night, parents spend the month of October strategizing how to keep All Hallow’s Eve fun and safe for everyone. Thanks to a not-so-scary array of useful mobile apps, keeping trick-or-treaters from running amok is as easy as a few swipes and clicks. Keep reading to see them all. 

1. Companion: Personal Mobile Safety
Candy may be top of mind for trick-or-treaters, but nervous parents who let their spook-tacularly dressed kids knock on neighbors’ and strangers’ doors on Halloween likely are more concerned with safety. Companion works like a virtual security escort, allowing users to leverage their network of friends and family to ensure they safely arrive at their destinations. Enter a location or destination and select contacts to serve as companions. Companions can see a live map of users’ progress and receive updates as users make their way from point A to point B. The app checks in to make sure everything is OK and if there is no response in 15 seconds, companions are automatically alerted. By tapping the “I Feel Nervous” button, users can report feeling unsafe and communicate with companions.

Free for iOS.


2. Life360 Family & Friend Locator
Unlike most digital devices these days, people don’t have built-in “find me” functions. Fortunately, Life360 steps in with an app that serves as the next best thing. The Family & Friend Locator app lets users view the location of friends or family members on a private map, all in real time. In addition to keeping track of the movements of registered family and friends, users can coordinate meeting times and locations as well as receive notifications when other users come and go—from home, from work or from school. The app also monitors driving behavior and lets users share photos and text messages via secure private chat. Premium subscriptions range from $2.99/monthly to $69.99/annually, which includes 24/7 driver support in the U.S.

Free for iOS and Android, with in-app purchases.


3. GroupMe
Group text chats can sometimes be overwhelming, so an app like GroupMe is an excellent way to stay connected without extraneous noise, especially when it’s a group organized around a common event, such as Halloween 2017. Many business users are already familiar with GroupMe, which was acquired by Skype in 2011. The interface is familiar, like most social networking apps. Users can be added to a group via their mobile phone numbers or e-mail addresses, and can use SMS to chat even without installing the app. More than just text, GroupMe chats can include any number of emojis and stickers (available with in-app purchases) and pics.

Free for iOS, Android, and Windows, with in-app purchases.


4. Nextdoor
Many communities have closed Facebook groups, but when it comes to connecting in real life with people in your neighborhood, Nextdoor is the private, social networking app that knows exactly what’s happening right where you live. Rather than connecting with friends from across the globe, Nextdoor’s sole purpose is to connect with friends and neighbors from across the street. Find out about local news and events, weather alerts and other important notices in the ’hood. The app also features a classified section that helps users find, sell and give away items or find recommendations for trustworthy service providers. For Halloween, neighbors can use Nextdoor to post pics of the best (or spookiest) decorated house or share which house has the best candy giveaways.

Free for iOS and Android.

What’s your favorite app to keep connected with friends and family? Tell us in the comments below!

—Kipp Jarecke-Cheng