Ever wished you could discreetly contact 911 in a dangerous situation? If you’re an iPhone user, you have a tool designed to do just that.
This past fall, Apple launched iOS 11, which introduced a variety of new features into the Apple mobile experience. You’ve likely read about or seen commercials for the iPhone X’s incredible Face ID feature, which allows for phone unlocking — and has given birth to the new world of Animojis.
But one extremely useful feature for personal security can be accessed without any of the new iPhones’ technological innovations, available even for those who upgrade any compatible iPhone to iOS 11.
That feature is Emergency SOS, which enables your iPhone to help you in emergency situations. The function provides easy connection to emergency service lines — 911 in the United States — without the need for traditional dialing.
The tool could be particularly helpful for women or members of other marginalized groups who could find themselves the target of identity-based abuse or violence and in need of emergency assistance.
Caitlin Roper of Collective Shout, an organization that works against objectification of women in media, opened up to the Huffington Post UK about Emergency SOS, saying that it “may be a useful tool, particularly for women who are at risk of men’s violence.”
She notes, however, that the feature can only do so much — “if a woman should be caught trying to utilize this service in a domestic violence attack she may be in even greater danger.” One tool is undoubtedly not enough to dismantle the conditions that engender widespread abuse, but Emergency SOS is a helpful option to have available in times of danger.
How To Use Emergency SOS
Ready to equip yourself with Emergency SOS assistance? Here’s how it works. First, you need to know how to call up the feature.
On iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X, hold the side button and one of the volume buttons down at the same time. An Emergency SOS slider will pop up on the screen. Slide it to make the 911 call.
If you have an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, or an older iPhone that can download iOS 11, press the side button five times until the Emergency SOS slider pops up, and then slide to make the call.
Setting Up AutoCall
You can also set up AutoCall, so emergency services are automatically dialed (after a countdown) when you hold down the Emergency SOS initiator buttons, eliminating the slider step. To enable the Autocall feature, head to Settings, Emergency SOS, and slide AutoCall to the on position.
Besides the direct emergency call, a couple other things are put into motion when you initiate Emergency SOS. After the call is over, your phone will send text alert updates to your emergency contacts with your location. (You can set your emergency contacts in your phone’s Health app.)
When Emergency SOS is activated, Touch ID is also disabled, requiring traditional password entry to get into your phone.
Hopefully you never find yourself needing the Emergency SOS feature. But if you do, it can be a great feature to discreetly get in touch with emergency services or your own emergency contacts and get your location sent out to people in times of distress.