Google is finally addressing the spike in emergency calls due to Android devices

Summary

  • Google has updated its Personal Safety app to require a “touch and hold” step to send a call for emergency services, addressing a spike in false 911 calls from Android phones.
  • The emergency SOS feature has been present in phone builds since Android 12, but device manufacturers had the option to activate it by default, leading to accidental calls.
  • While the update may reduce accidental calls, the new process of contacting emergency services through touch-and-hold could be seen as a drawback, especially in time-sensitive situations, potentially complicating matters for those in need.


If you’ve ever experienced an unexpected emergency in the digital age, you likely know the benefits of having a phone on you in these moments. An immediate connection to the outside world can be the difference between instant emergency care and an increasingly severe situation. However, Google may have made it too easy to send out a call for emergency services. After a reported spike in these calls, the situation has since been remedied.

As noted by Mishaal Rahman in an update posted to X (formerly known as Twitter), Google updated its Personal Safety app — the tool that allows you to easily contact emergency services — back in June 2023. Now, it’s being observed that a “touch and hold” step is required in order to send a call for help. This means that, after pressing your power button at least 5 times, you need to touch and hold a button on your display for 3 seconds. Doing so initiates the call to emergency personnel. If you’ve already set up the emergency SOS feature on your device, you can now switch to this mode of contact.

All phone builds since Android 12 have required an emergency SOS feature, but Google has always left it up to device

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Google fixes emergency SOS flaw on Android phones

Google has launched a new fix to address the uptake of accidental 911 calls through Android phones.

With “Emergency SOS,” five consecutive taps on the power button would trigger an automatic call to emergency services. While the feature could be helpful in many situations, it proved to be a headache for many law enforcement agencies around the world, including in Canada.

In April, the OPP asked Android users to turn the feature off. The RCMP in B.C. made a similar request soon after, citing a “significant increase” in abandoned 911 calls.

Image credit: @Mishaal Rahman/X

According to Mishaal Rahman, Google addressed the issue in late June by introducing an extra confirmation step. Now, when users activate the emergency system, a “touch and hold” screen will appear. Users need “to tap and hold the button for three seconds to initiate emergency SOS,” Rahman wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

 

Google has required all devices from Android 12 to include the emergency SOS feature but left the manufacturer to decide if it’s turned on by default.

New users setting up emergency SOS will see this as their default option. Those who previously set up the feature “can switch to this mode” for extra assurance, Rahman notes.

Via: Mishaal Rahman


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Google Messages App: emergency SOS via satellite coming to Android?

Since Apple introduced the emergency SOS via satellite feature last year, we’ve been hearing numerous stories of how this helpful feature has acted as a hero, saving lives. This feature allows you to connect to a satellite and send an SOS message to an emergency service provider even when you don’t have any cellular reception.Earlier rumors hinted at the possibility of the SOS emergency service making its way to Android 14. Surprisingly, that day might be arriving sooner than anticipated. The Google Messages app seems to be gearing up to enable users to send emergency SOS messages via satellite. Sharp-eyed user Neïl Rahmouni noticed this progress, later shared by Mishaal Rahman on X (via Android Authority).
Google has begun incorporating user interface elements for the emergency SOS via satellite feature into its Messages app, a preinstalled app on almost all Android phones.

Rahman points out that the current SOS functionality is merely a placeholder within the app. Its presence doesn’t confirm that upcoming Pixel phones or other devices will support satellite communication. But, it does show Google wants to fit this service into its messaging app instead of making a whole new one.

Putting the emergency SOS via satellite into the Google Messages app makes sense because that’s the default texting app on most Android phones. However, specifics remain unclear, such as which phones will support this feature and the exact implementation by Google. Speculation points toward the potential inclusion of this feature in

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