Police in the UK have started warning people about a feature in Android’s Operating System that allows people to easily call emergency services, due to it being the main reason for a spike in accidental calls to Emergency services.
The Safety feature, introduced in Android 12, allows users to easily call emergency services by pressing the power button five times, now if a person has there phone in their pocket, or they have a easy to click power button, that will make it easily trigger the feature.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) tweeted that they are experiencing record high 999 calls and that the new Android Update has had a negatively significant impact on this number.
“Nationally, all emergency services are currently experiencing record high 999 call volumes. There’s a few reasons for this, but one we think is having a significant impact is an update to Android smartphones.”
In response to this issue, Google has said that it’s working on a fix with Android OEMs. Now while the Android 12 Update (The update that released the feature) has been out for about 2 years now, Due to the odd nature of Android updates, it’s now starting to hit more budget phones which could be the main reason this is happening.
Google says that until a Patch comes out, you should just disable the feature, I personally have kept that feature off since I got it on my Pixel. Now disabling it is straight forward on Samsung and Google devices, with a top level ‘Safety and Emergency” option in settings. But with other devices, it might be a bit harder, best choice is to just Google the steps.
Google also said that it was up to manufacturers who choose to offer Emergency SOS on their devices to manage how the feature worked on their phones.
“To help these manufacturers prevent unintentional emergency calls on their devices, Android is providing them with additional guidance and resources,” they said.
“We anticipate device manufacturers will roll out updates to their users that address this issue shortly.
Not to mention, the European Emergency Number Association warned that it had been alerted by some of its members to a “surge in automatic false calls originating from Android devices”.
Google expects a patch to be released soon. So until then, I guess Emergency Services will have to deal with this Accidental Call Issue.