When it was introduced in September, Apple made great use of its latest iPhone’s ability to detect car accidents and automatically contact emergency services. Now, however, reports suggest the feature is prone to false positives.
The Wall Street Journal recently spoke with Sara White, a 39-year-old dentist who recently spent a day with her family at the Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, she zipped her new iPhone 14 into her fanny pack before heading to the Mystic Timbers roller coaster.
Though she thought she was being conscientious in trying to keep her phone safe and prevent it from potentially hitting anyone, the combination of being stowed away and being surrounded by loud noises meant that, when the roller coaster activated the emergency alert on her phone, she noticed. it’s not in time to stop the call.
Since the iPhone 14 went on sale, the 911 dispatch center near Kings Island amusement park has received at least six calls saying:
“The owner of this iPhone was in a serious car accident…”
Only the owner was just on a roller coaster.
by me: https://t.co/hp1fHZBIf6 pic.twitter.com/i0lZPoWzGz
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) October 9, 2022
When she finally checked her phone, she saw that she had missed several calls and a voicemail from an emergency center asking her if everything was okay. Though they heard the sounds of an amusement park in the background, emergency services were forced to send a team to White to make sure she was okay.
Of course, first responders don’t like it when they receive false alerts because it’s a waste of resources and can make it harder to respond to real emergencies. But they’re not the only people who are occasionally unnecessarily warped by Apple’s new feature.
The paper also spoke to Douglas Sonders, a motorcyclist whose iPhone 14 flew off his handlebar mount in September and ended up on the street. Also in this case the phone said it detected a crash.
While that’s a reasonable assumption given the circumstances, Sonders was unable to locate the phone and therefore was unable to cancel the emergency alerts that the iPhone 14 also sends to an owner’s emergency contacts. After the incident, the rider’s girlfriend, Gabriel Kennedy, was contacted via text message and told that his “iPhone had detected a crash”.
“I was shocked. I was thinking of the worst,” Kennedy said. “My best friend died in a car accident […] It brought me back there.”
Apple says this new feature is very accurate, but as more and more iPhone 14s hit the market, it seems inevitable that situations like this will become more common. However, the company says it will continue to improve the feature.
In the meantime, folks who go on roller coasters and participate in other high-G activities can disable the feature in their settings, though it’s enabled by default.