It’s a feature that Apple never want you to use, but the new WatchOS update for all Apple watches, there’s an “SOS” feature, giving you a one-touch way to reach emergency services in a life-threatening situation.
All users have to do is press and hold the side button on their Watch for 6 seconds. A countdown will begin to scroll across the screen, and a loud alert will inform you that you’re about to be put through to 999. If you’re in an unfamiliar country, the Watch will ring the local equivalent, a feature that could prove invaluable if travelling abroad and an emergency occurs. When the call is finished, designated contacts will receive a message and your location, even if you’ve turned off the location services. Your medical ID will also show up on your watch face for anyone to view and apply medical attention if needed. There is a whole list of scenarios that I can think this feature may prove to help those in need, be it from reporting an incident to being involved in one. Apple has said that it’s more that the feature is there, rather than bringing attention to it. The fact that it takes 6 seconds to call through also means there is less chance of an accidental call.
Although used sparingly, this innovation in a device that you wear on you at all times could prove to be a life saver. In situations where you might have lost access to your phone, the watch will still work over that cellular connection (if close by), or local Wi-Fi. However, this begs for the next itineration of watches to be able to connect through its own cellular connection, as the Watch still relies on the iPhone to work. For those who already have an Apple Watch, make sure you are updated to watchOS 3 to enable the feature. For those who are looking into getting a smartwatch, this feature may sway you towards Apple’s offering, although I’m sure most smartwatch makers will be catching up soon.
Smartwatches are only going to get more and more popular across the board. Like smartphones, it will take time to infiltrate the wrists of everyone, but knowing that these types of features are here, available, and being improved on gives everyone a little bit more peace of mind.
This article was written by Jordan-Lee Pirrie for Stay Brave UK. Jordan-Lee is dancer, writer and presenter based in London, United Kingdom. You can follow Jordan-Lee over on Twitter or his YouTube channel.