Apple will soon add a feature via an iOS update that lets you place an emergency call from your iPhone just by pressing some buttons.
Emergency calls have been an iPhone feature for years, with a tappable Emergency button featured on the phone's lock screen. But this new method, currently available in a developer beta, should make emergency calls much easier to place — vital when you don't have a second to lose.
Mashable first reported on the Emergency feature, having seen it in a preview of iOS 10.2 Beta 2. We've downloaded the beta and tested out the feature for ourselves.
With the iOS 10 update, pressing the power button five times launches an emergency call. A 3-second countdown then appears on the screen, giving you the opportunity to cancel the call in case you've repeatedly mashed the iPhone's power button by accident. You'll know if you triggered the call — a very loud siren will begin to sound as well.
The feature looks like it's turned on by default, but you can toggle buttons to turn off either the automatic emergency call or the countdown siren by going to Settings > General > Emergency SOS. The Emergency SOS setting also lists your emergency contacts, which you can set in the iOS 10 Health app.
It makes sense for Apple to add this feature. Smartphones are most commonly the devices we’re carrying around each day. When an emergency strikes, then, it’s nice to have an iPhone (or Android-based smartphone) to take out of a pocket and facilitate a quick call to first responders. And it's even better to not to have to unlock the phone or fumble with a number to make a call during an emergency.
You'll need iOS 10.2 Beta 2 on your phone to use the Emergency SOS feature right now. It's not clear when that feature will be added to a public update to iOS 10.