Impractical ICE BlackBox can film, share emergency situations

ICE BlackBox screenshot

ICE BlackBox promises a secure, easy system for delivering audio, video and your location to personalized emergency contacts with the push of a button in any emergency situation. It also features a one-touch "Call 911" button to connect you directly with your local authorities. ICE Blackbox is free for iOS.

Some additional background: videos are completely permanent on the device once recorded in an attempt to prevent forced deletion and accidental deletion. Even if not an extreme emergency, send them via text message or email to anyone you need to contact. The app integrates with The Humane Society of the United States and National Neighborhood Watch for reporting animal abuse, too.

Your first task to complete in ICE BlackBox is to add some emergency contacts. When you record an emergency video, these people are who the video gets sent out to. Optionally choose multiple numbers for the same contact as well.

Another important feature is the Emergency Dial Preferences in the Settings of the app, which lets you customize the one-touch emergency call. It's set to 911 by default, but if you're in a different country or prefer to use a different phone number entirely you have the ability to change it to whatever you want.

Unfortunately, I ran into several issues using ICE BlackBox. For one, the videos I attempted to record did not save at all to the app. The Record button is large and green in the center of the camera view, but after tapping "Stop," nothing happened. The placement of the Record button, by the way, isn't the best design decision since it blocks a decent portion of what your camera is filming.

ICE BlackBox screenshot

If the videos aren't saving, the app is basically rendered useless. This could just be a problem with the current version of the app. Previous versions have pretty good ratings in the App Store, which I suspect wouldn't be the case if ICE BlackBox wasn't functioning as advertised. Still, after numerous attempts at recording something, my Incidents list kept displaying "No videos. Pull down to refresh."

The app is a nifty concept but in its current state, it doesn't work properly. With the videos not saving, I'm unable to send any footage to any of my emergency contacts or anyone at all. Reporting animal abuse doesn't work either.

However, in a real world situation I'm not sure that I would find the app very useful anyway. If you're in a dangerous situation, I'm not sure that the threatening individual would scatter if you told them you were using the app. Instead of deleting the video, they could have you delete the app, or worse give them your phone. If you wanted to film something important but not life-threatening, it's just as easy to use the standard Camera app and send it to anyone you want.

I appreciate the intent behind ICE BlackBox, but at the end of the day it doesn't seem very practical for emergency situations. It's available for iPhone and iPad free in the App Store.