With the release of the Apple iPhone 14 comes the release of one of the company’s newest features: Emergency SOS. Emergency SOS allows you to connect with emergency services via a satellite connection as opposed to cellular data or wifi, which are sparse in remote areas. The feature saved a man lost in the Alaskan Wilderness this week, but there’s still kinks to be worked out in Apple’s foray into expanded emergency alerts.
MacRumors reports that around 2:00 a.m. local time, a man making the trek from Noorvik to Kotzebue via snowmobile became stranded in the Alaska wilderness and activated his iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature. Local search and rescue teams worked with Apple’s Emergency Response Center to locate the man and take him to safety in Kotzebue. The man sustained no reported injuries, according to a dispatch from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, State Troopers.
It was a lucky thing for the man to be able to promptly connect with Apple and authorities after he had gotten lost in the wild. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature in the Kotzebue area was 19 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, and the area is currently under a winter storm warning until Saturday night.
It is a high stakes success story of the Apple tech gone right, potentially saving someone’s life as a result. But what about the times similar Apple tech has gone wrong? Apple has been playing with emergency response features in one way or another for years, but in addition to the Emergency SOS integration on iPhone 14, another recent addition is Crash Detection for the phone, which can automatically alert emergency services if a hard crash is detected.
It’s a noble concept, and is advertised as having the potential to help those who have gotten in a car accident, for example, but the feature is not without its flaws. Crash Detection might be a little too sensitive, as news emerged this week that skiers are having to explain to police that they are not injured or in danger, they’re just partaking in the intense motion of the winter sport. Earlier this autumn, it was widely reported that roller coasters would also trigger Crash Detection.
Obviously you could argue that software hiccups are a normal part of the process as features get more and more refined. The good thing here is that Emergency SOS appears to working swimmingly, likely because it places more of an onus on the human—you have to reach out to emergency services, whereas Crash Detection automatically notifies authorities. However, while Crash Detection has its flaw’s, it’s better that it works a little too well rather than not well enough.