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When Apple released iOS 11 in the fall, it included a feature called Emergency SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch. It enables users to automatically call for help and alert contacts in the event of an emergency. If you hold down the iPhone's side button and volume button long enough, emergency services will be contacted.
When Auto Call is enabled on an iPhone and an emergency call is started, your device begins a countdown and sounds a loud alert. After the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls 911 in the US.
Change the setting on iPhone:
- Open the Settings app in iOS.
- Tap Emergency SOS
- Turn Auto Call off or on.
Change the setting on Apple Watch:
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap the My Watch tab.
- Tap General > Emergency SOS.
- Turn off or on Hold to Auto Call.
Even with Auto Call disabled, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call after holding the side button and volume button on iPhone X and iPhone 8.
To make a call on iPhone 7 or earlier, rapidly press the side button five times, and the Emergency SOS slider will appear.
To make a call on Apple Watch, press and hold the side button on your wearable until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
In February, our sister site CNET detailed an influx in recent months of false alarm 911 calls to Sacramento, Calf., emergency dispatchers from an Apple repair center in nearby Elk Grove, Calif. Dispatchers receive as many as 20 accidental emergency calls a day from Apple.
Jamie Hudson, a police dispatcher, told CBS Sacramento:
"We're able to see quickly where the call is coming from, so when we get one from Apple, the address will come up with their location.
The times when it's greatly impacting us is when we have other emergencies happening and we may have a dispatcher on another 911 call that may have to put that call on hold to triage the incoming call."
Apple responded in a February statement: "We're aware of 911 calls originating from our Elk Grove repair and refurbishment facility. We take this seriously and we are working closely with local law enforcement to investigate the cause and ensure this doesn't continue."
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