Apple recently pushed out its iOS 10.2 update this week, which brings a slew of new updates and changes to the iPhone experience. One of the big inclusions with the new update is the SOS button, a feature that is now necessary requirement on all smartphones as per DoT’s regulations. This addition is in conjunction with the Indian government launching its own national emergency service (like 911 in the US) in the form of 112, starting January 1, 2017.
You might think that this is not a feature that you would need, or could ever find the use for, but there is more to the SOS function than what you perceive. You can find the new feature in Settings > General > Emergency SOS. Let’s look at some of the functions in the SOS panel.
To begin with, you can choose the number of times you click on the Sleep/Wake button on the right side of your device to activate the SOS service. Click Sleep/Wake to Auto Call allows the phone to automatically call the emergency number (112) after counting down from three. You get the option to cancel the call if you have unwittingly activated the function. After three seconds, you are connected to the emergency operator and can report your problem. With the auto call off, a slider appears on the screen after the three second timer counts down, and then you have to manually make the call.
If you have selected emergency contact numbers, the phone starts counting down from 10 after the call ends to send messages to those numbers that you are in distress (which again you can cancel if you want). The phone sends three messages to your emergency contact; one telling that the person has received the message because they are assigned as your emergency contact, the second gives your GPS locations and the third gives the GPS location of where you were initially when you made your SOS call to 112.
Note: If your data pack is off, the phone will only send an SOS with the location where you made the emergency call. There is no real time tracking without Internet.
After the sending the message to emergency contact, your ‘Medical ID’ pops up on the screen that shares your picture, name, DOB, emergency contact number, blood type, weight, height, medical conditions, medical notes, allergies & reactions and medications. The Medical ID can be set up by going to the ‘Health’ app on your phone and putting in all your data.
The Medical ID screen stays stuck to the screen, and cannot be closed or minimised by pressing any of the physical buttons on the phone. The screen does not even dim out, and the ID keeps on being displayed unless someone presses the ‘Done’ option on the top right corner. This feature will allow emergency personnel or the first response person to know to some details of your medical history, even if you are incapacitated.
If you close the Medical ID, you will see that your phone is sending the SOS emergency location to your emergency contacts. Your emergency contacts will be able to track your position in real time while your phone still has power. When you click on the blue banner on the top, you will be taken to the SOS settings from where you can stop sharing your emergency location.
The Click Sleep/Wake option lets you choose the number of clicks that triggers the SOS function and comes with only two default settings – three clicks or five clicks. Now the second setting is a little more interesting, the Countdown Sound.
With this setting enabled, the phone makes loud buzzer sounds as it countdowns to the 112 call after you trigger the SOS function. This setting might be useful for people who unwittingly turn the function on, but is very counter productive in sketchy situations. If you are a woman walking away from a potential molester, you do not want your phone to scream out loudly that you are making an emergency call. You would simply want it to do it quietly when you triple (or five times) click the button even before you take it out of your purse.
Regardless of your physical health or your physical built, SOS is an important feature to have on your phone and can save your life one day. It might be worth five minutes of your time to understand what it is and how it works. As always, be safe!
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