Apple’s new crash detection for iPhone 14 plagued with false alarms


Living in 2022 is fantastic because of all the life-saving technology we have at our fingertips or in our pockets. If you’re wearing an Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, or—soon—a Pixel Watch, your watch can detect when you’ve fallen and summon assistance on your behalf even if you can’t. Apple and Android devices can also tell whether you’ve been in a car accident. The accident detection feature on the Apple Watch and iPhone, however, has been reported by some users to be a little too ready to dial 911.

The Wall Street Journal was given access to six calls made from iPhones in Warren County, Ohio, by a dispatch center. The owners of the iPhones were not in a car accident; instead, they were riding rides at the Kings Island amusement park. Visitors to the nearby Six Flags Great America theme park in Illinois have also reported strange incidents.

Based on sensor and location data, an iPhone 14 series smartphone, an Apple Watch Series 8, a second-generation Apple Watch SE, or an Apple Watch Ultra will start Emergency SOS mode and, if no response is received after 10 seconds, will dial 911. An automated message informing dispatchers that the device’s owner was “in a terrible vehicle crash” and is unable to react will be audible. As the message repeats and the location data is provided, background noise from the area gradually enters the device. Depending on how the user has configured Emergency SOS, other actions, such as texting an emergency contact, may be taken.

Many accounts are being circulated explaining various technical mistakes, from thrill-seekers to an iPhone 14 Pro Max with a loose strap flying away from a motorcycle rider. Despite the fact that this flaw generates a relatively tiny number of false positives, even one of them can divert first responders and resources away from a real emergency.

A representative for Apple told the Journal that the technology will get better with time and that the feature gives people peace of mind.

In order to determine whether a collision has occurred, Google’s Android devices from the Pixel 3 series onward with Android 13 or later analyze ambient sound in addition to examining sensor and location data. With its extensive background in automated sound processing through Google Assistant and other ambient features, the corporation does have an advantage.

Both Apple and Google’s approaches produce legitimate crash reports, but given that one side seems to be experiencing more growing pains than the other, it stands to reason that Apple could perform better in this area.

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