iOS includes a feature called Emergency SOS that makes it easy to call 911 in times of need, but the feature has also reportedly led to a slew of accidental phone calls to emergency officials.
A report from CBS Sacramento says that emergency dispatchers in Elk Grove and Sacramento County in California have seen an influx of false alarm calls that appear to be originating from an Apple repair and refurbishing center in the area…
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The report explains that emergency dispatchers see an average of 20 accidental 911 calls per day from the facility, for a total of 1,600 calls since October. The dispatchers say the calls really started rolling in around October, which seems to roughly coincide with the release of iOS 11 and the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, which were released in September and November, respectively.
The accidental calls are beginning to frustrate police departments and dispatchers. Police dispatcher Jamie Hudson says the calls take valuable time away in situations where there are other emergencies happening:
“We’ve been seeing these calls for the last four months from Apple. 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,” he said.
“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.”
In a statement, Apple acknowledged that its repair and refurbishment center is responsible for the calls and says it is working with law enforcement officials to investigate:
“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.”
The Emergency SOS feature includes an Auto Call setting that, when active, allows you to call 911 by holding the side button and either volume button. It’s likely that this plays a part in these accidental calls. Apple Watch also has the same feature. Both the iPhone and Apple Watch have these features enabled by default.
We’ve heard several stories where the SOS feature on Apple Watch has helped those in need. Most recently, a mother used the feature after she and her son were involved in a car crash with a drunk driver.
Have you ever accidentally called 911 using SOS on your iPhone or Apple Watch? If so, be sure to read our guide on how to disable Auto Call right here.