Google proactively changes the Android Emergency SOS feature to address frequent accidental emergency calls. This feature debuted with Android 12 on Pixels. It was made mandatory for other device manufacturers, offering users a convenient way to connect with emergency services during critical situations by rapidly pressing the power button. However, this ease of access has led to unintended consequences, with users inadvertently triggering emergency calls without realising the gravity of the situation.
Emergency calls have long been a vital link between phone users and life-saving services. With the advent of smartphones and wearables, we have witnessed remarkable advancements in accessing help, such as crash detection and fall detection features.
Nevertheless, there are instances where these systems encounter issues, as seen earlier this year when Android phones inadvertently made accidental 911 calls. Unfortunately, this problem has resurfaced once again.
When Android phones unintentionally contact emergency services, it not only places a burden on communication centres with silent calls but can also cause potential delays in assisting those in genuine need. Recognising the gravity of the situation, authorities worldwide have raised concerns, prompting Google to take decisive action.
The UK’s National Police Chiefs Council speculates that the surge in 999 calls can be attributed, in part, to the widespread availability of the Emergency SOS feature on Android phones. Police forces across the UK, including the Devon and Cornwall Police, have reported significant resource consumption due to these silent calls, each requiring up to 20 minutes to handle.
In response to these mounting concerns, Google has communicated its expectations for device manufacturers to release updates that address this issue promptly. It has also committed to assisting original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by providing comprehensive guidance and resources to prevent inadvertent emergency calls. Meanwhile, users who have experienced this issue firsthand are advised to disable the Emergency SOS feature temporarily.
Renowned Android expert Mishaal Rahman has shed light on the global extent of this problem, citing warnings issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia and the European Emergency Number Association. These warnings indicate that the issue of false Emergency SOS calls originating from Android devices extends beyond borders.
If you have an Android device, keep your software up to date and be aware of the potential for false Emergency SOS calls. You can also report any suspicious activity to Google.
Despite the recent release of Android 13, the problem has persisted since the initial introduction of the Emergency SOS feature in Android 12. Google remains committed to ensuring users can rely on the Emergency SOS feature without risking unintended emergency calls. The Aim is to enhance user experience and prioritise efficient emergency response.