Google Pixel new SOS mode can automatically record video in an emergency

The rear of the Google Pixel 5a showing the camera module, against a background of pink flowers
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Personal Safety app on Google Pixel phones is getting a useful update that will give it emergency recording capabilities. 

Pixel phones have had the Pixel Personal Safety app for a while, giving users features such as Car Crash Detection, which calls 911 if you crash your car and aren't able to dial on your own. The new emergency recording mode can record up to 45 minutes of footage that is then uploaded to your Google Account and shared with emergency contacts. 

First spotted by XDA Developers, the latest addition to the Personal Security app will turn on when you activate the phone’s ‘emergency SOS’ feature — which can be done by pressing the power button five times in quick succession.

The emergency recording feature can be turned on in the Personal Safety app’s settings, provided you've already set up Emergency SOS. Once activated, it will automatically start recording and won’t stop until either you tell it to, or 45 minutes have passed. Recordings are then automatically uploaded to your Google account for safe keeping, where they will remain for seven days. 

The app also includes a setting that will automatically share the uploaded video with your emergency contacts. That way if it is needed, and you’re unable to contact them yourself, your contacts know what’s happened to you. You'll have to activate this setting yourself, however, but since it’s an option during the setup process you won’t be able to miss it.

Obviously when an emergency is happening, every spare second counts, and there may not be an opportunity to manually open up the camera app and start recording. So the fact the Pixel’s emergency SOS features will now record and upload video automatically is more than welcome.

Naturally, all the previous SOS features, like calling 911 and sharing information with emergency contacts, are still available within the Personal Safety app. So be sure to configure the settings in whatever way you feel comfortable. 

The update hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, as evidenced by the fact it’s not available on my Pixel 4a, but it should be coming pretty soon; you just need to head over to Google Play and install the update.

While the Personal Safety app is exclusive to Google Pixel devices, other phones (Android and iOS) have their own emergency SOS features as well. So be sure to check out our guide on how to use SOS emergency features on iPhone, Android, and smartwatches, just in case you ever need their help.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.