After a spike in false 911 calls, Google has updated its Personal Safety feature to reduce the number of pocket dials emergency services received, according to a post on X by Mishaal Rahman of the Android Faithful podcast.
Authorities asked Google to adjust the Emergency SOS feature on Android phones, which lets users call 911 by tapping the power button five times. The feature was activated without consumers’ knowledge, calling 911 personnel, emergency contacts, and start video recordings.
The cause of the calls was a flaw in Android’s Emergency SOS feature, specifically on Android 13 devices, when the option became more commonplace. All Androids 12 or newer must have an emergency SOS feature, but it was up to the manufacturers to activate it by default. In April, emergency dispatchers started reaching out to Google, saying they had received a significant spike in false calls.
Emergency personnel requested Google adjust the feature to include a manual barrier before placing a call. The upgrade requires callers to “touch and hold” to confirm they want to call emergency services by pushing the power button five times or more. A red circle will appear on the screen, which must be pressed for three seconds to be connected to emergency services. Other automatic actions, such as location sharing and recording a video, will begin based on your phone’s settings.
Before, the waiting screen would automatically dial 911 after a five-second delay without requiring the user to complete additional steps.
If you’re concerned that the press-and-hold option may slow you down during a time-sensitive emergency, you can switch back to the original mode in the settings menu.
“Users that experience accidental emergency calls should ensure they have downloaded and installed the latest device updates and can contact their device’s manufacturer for further assistance,” a spokesperson for Google told Cord Cutters News.
Visit Android Help to learn more about Google’s Personal Safety app and how to adjust your emergency calling settings.