Starting with iOS 11, there is a new emergency SOS feature. This lets you quickly contact 911 or an emergency contact without unlocking your phone. For iPhone 7 and earlier, this is activated by pressing the side button five times. With the iPhone 8 and later, you activate it by pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons. Then what happens? Read on to find out.
iOS Emergency SOS Auto-Call and Emergency Contacts
After you’ve activated Emergency SOS, you’ll have the option to swipe to contact emergency services or dial your emergency medical contact. Once this happens, you will begin sharing your location with emergency services and your emergency contact even if you’ve turned location services off.
In order your Emergency SOS to contact the right people, you have to add them as emergency contacts in your Health app. Otherwise, Emergency SOS will only dial 911 (or the equivalent in your area).
To add an emergency contact, open the Health app, select Medical ID in the bottom-right, and select Edit. Go down to the Emergency Contacts and select add emergency contact.
Once you’ve done that, you can go to your Settings and then Emergency SOS for some more options.
The most important setting here is Auto Call. With Auto Call enabled, your phone will automatically dial emergency services after a 3-second countdown. It will play a very loud and very annoying alert sound as it does this, which I discovered while trying to test this feature out at 4:30AM while my kids were sleeping (awesome).
Speaking of kids, if you’re prone to leaving your phone with a child or someone otherwise predisposed to pressing buttons over and over and perhaps accidentally activating the Emergency SOS feature, then I highly recommend you do not enable Auto Call.
As of now, there doesn’t appear to be a way to disable Emergency SOS on the iPhone, other than turning off Auto Call. You can also keep Auto Call on and turn off the countdown sound.
Have you ever used Emergency SOS on your iPhone? Tell us about it in the comments.