In recent times, police departments and emergency services in various countries have raised concerns about a new Android feature that is leading to a surge in unintentional emergency calls. These erroneous calls, commonly referred to as “pocket calls,” now constitute nearly one-third of all emergency calls. While the Android update intended to make it easier to contact emergency services, it has inadvertently resulted in an overwhelming number of accidental calls, causing inconvenience and frustration for both the authorities and the general public.
|Illustration depicting a smartphone with emergency services symbol, representing the issue of false emergency calls due to the Android update.|
The Impact of the Android Update
The Android operating system, developed by Google, introduced a new feature triggering an emergency call when the on/off button is pressed five times consecutively. Unfortunately, this button pressing often occurs accidentally, such as when the smartphone slips around in a trouser pocket. The Association of Police Chiefs in Great Britain reported a significant increase in emergency calls, attributing it to this new Android feature. Similarly, the Berlin fire brigade witnessed a surge in “pocket calls” last night, reinforcing the assumption that the issue is linked to the Android function.
The Role of Smartphone Manufacturers
While Google bears responsibility for the Android operating system, the company has emphasized the role of smartphone manufacturers in addressing this issue. The feature was initially introduced in Android 12, released towards the end of 2021. However, since smartphone manufacturers take time to implement Android updates for their respective models, the problem has only recently become more prevalent. Consequently, resolving the issue may take a considerable amount of time. In response to inquiries from the “RBB,” Google acknowledged the need for manufacturers to provide appropriate updates. Meanwhile, users can choose to deactivate the “Emergency SOS” feature, typically found in the settings under “Security and Emergencies.”
The unintended consequences of the Android update have led to a significant increase in false emergency calls, straining the resources of police departments and emergency services worldwide. While the update aimed to improve accessibility to emergency services, the surge in accidental calls necessitates a swift resolution. Collaborative efforts between Google and smartphone manufacturers are crucial in providing timely updates to rectify this issue. Until then, users are advised to disable the “Emergency SOS” feature to prevent inadvertent calls.
1. How can I disable the “Emergency SOS” feature on my Android device?
To disable the “Emergency SOS” feature, follow these steps:
- Go to the “Settings” menu on your Android device.
- Look for the “Security and Emergencies” section.
- Within this section, locate the “Emergency SOS” option.
- Toggle the switch to deactivate the feature.
2. Will disabling the “Emergency SOS” feature affect the functionality of my device during emergencies?
Disabling the “Emergency SOS” feature will only prevent accidental emergency calls triggered by the on/off button. In case of a genuine emergency, you can still contact emergency services through alternative methods, such as dialing the emergency number directly.
3. Are all Android devices affected by this issue?
The issue primarily affects Android devices running the Android 12 operating system. However, the impact may vary depending on the specific smartphone manufacturer and their implementation of the Android update.
4. How long is it expected to resolve this issue?
The resolution timeline depends on smartphone manufacturers providing the necessary updates to address the problem. Given the diverse range of devices and models, it may take a considerable amount of time for the updates to reach all affected users.
5. Can I prevent accidental calls while keeping the “Emergency SOS” feature active?
Currently, there is no option to customize the triggering mechanism for the “Emergency SOS” feature. Disabling the feature or being cautious with handling your device can help prevent unintended emergency calls.