That feature is the Emergency SOS function, which is meant to help you out if you’re in a situation where it might be unsafe to pull out your phone to make a 911 call. It serves two purposes: first as a proverbial flare gun, sending an instant message to local authorities if you’re in a dangerous situation. The second purpose is to lock your TouchID so that potential assailant can’t literally force your hand it opening your phone. Hopefully, of course, you’ll never need to use it; know this simple trick to help you avoid being a target of theft.
Here’s how the feature works. On the iPhone 7 and any earlier iPhones, all you need to do is discreetly tap the Lock button (on the right side of the phone) five times. A slider reading “Emergency SOS” will pop up on the screen. Slide it, and it’ll trigger your phone to call 911. If you have the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 plus, or the iPhone X, however, it’s slightly different. Instead, you have to hold down the Lock button on the side and the volume button at the same time, no tapping required. Then, the slider will appear. If you continue to hold the buttons down, the phone will automatically send the call.
The setup process is pretty straightforward: go to your iPhone’s settings icon, and then trace down to “Emergency SOS.” Once you’re in the Emergency SOS section, it will provide you with options for how you want to use the function. If you want to be able to quickly and automatically contact 911, switch on the AutoCall function. When the Emergency SOS is toggled, it will blare out three very loud alarms, counting down the three seconds before the 911 is dialed. You can also turn on the Countdown Sound on the Emergency SOS function, which helps keep users from accidentally activating the function.
There’s also a section to fill in emergency contact information. This can come in handy if you’re in an accident and the hospital needs to give or take pertinent information to your friends or family.
And as far as the TouchID shutoff feature goes, it will be automatically activated when you slide the Emergency SOS function into gear. Even if you cancel the 911 call before it completes, your phone will only be able to be opened via passcode. Learn more about the feature on Apple’s website.
Although ideally, you won’t ever have to use it, these are trying times, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Next, learn about another potentially life-saving iPhone feature.