Apple's Next iPhone And Smartwatch May Auto-Dial 911 If You Get Into A Car Crash

Car Accident
Today's smartphones and smartwatches heavily emphasize health features, with heart rate monitoring, sleep diagnostics, step counters, and the so forth. Relatively soon, however, Apple may add a new feature to its iPhone and Apple Watch devices—crash detection, which would then dial up 9-1-1 for you if you're in an accident.

Just as with most Android devices, Apple's handsets and wrist accessories are crammed full of various sensors. For crash detection, the accelerometer would play a key role in determining if a person had just been in a car accident, though it may also interact with other sensors as well. It essentially amounts to detecting changes in motion consisting with being a crash.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, internal documents reveal Apple intends to roll out the feature update next year. It's not entirely clear if this would be limited to next-gen iPhone and Apple Watch devices, or if it can also be applied to existing devices by way of a software update. There is reason to optimistic about the latter scenario.

It's said Apple has been testing the feature over the past year, by way of collecting anonymous data that iPhone and Apple Watch users have opted to share. Through these tests, Apple's device have cumulatively detected north of 10 million car crashes, of which over 50,000 resulted in the person calling 9-1-1 emergency services.

Apple's been analyzing the 9-1-1 data to hone its crash detection algorithm, the report states, though it's not mentioned where the level of accuracy is at right now.

It would be a welcome feature upgrade, though not one in which Apple is breaking new ground. Services like OnStar have been doing this for decades, and Google introduced a similar feature to its Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 phones, as part of its Personal Safety app. That said, it's not a foregone conclusion that Apple will add crash detection to its devices next year (but let's hope it does).