iOS and Android SOS Features: How to Request Help in Emergency Situations

AllsWell Team

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Life is unpredictable, and emergencies even more so – that’s why it's always better to make some plans, precautions, and back yourself up with an emergency SOS protocol. Calling for aid at the very start of an accident increases your chances of making it safe and sound. Therefore, it’s important to know all means available to reach out to the local emergency number. Or to dial primarily chosen emergency contacts if their owner might come to your call faster.

One of the easy-to-manage SOS alert options is default iOS and Android SOS features. We've already briefly mentioned these in our previous article related to the most practical women's safety devices. Now let's take a better look at their settings menus and helpful functionality.

How to Use Emergency SOS Features on Android?

Out-of-the-box emergency SOS tool has been available in Android since Lollipop 5.0. However, today we will focus on the functionality available in Android 12 and higher.

To launch the application, users must press the power button five times. After that, you'll see the activation bar filling in on the screen. It will take 3 seconds before apps start automatically dialing people from your emergency contacts and sending them text messages with your GPS location. Before the activation timer runs out, you can cancel the SOS alert with an X-button at the bottom of a screen.

Note that you must be connected to the Internet and have your GPS location tracking switched on while sending SOS messages. Also, remember it's dial 911 in emergency SOS mode only for Android 13-operated devices. For the time being, such are Google Pixel 4 and newer. If you need to reach out to emergency services immediately, swipe to see the Lock screen, tap Emergency Call, and dial 911.

Emergency SOS activation and setup on Android

You will find the SOS feature in your phone’s Settings. In MIUI devices, you should look for Emergency SOS. In Android 13 and OneUI, the section is titled Safety And Emergency.

First, toggle on Use Emergency SOS to activate this personal safety feature with default settings. Initially, there is a loud sound alarm that accompanies the SOS mode. It might be reasonable to switch it off, for there could be a risky and life-threatening situation when it’s better to avoid drawing additional attention to your location.

Here's what you should do next:

  1. Make an emergency contacts list. Choose people who will receive updates on your location in case of danger. You could send them a note of their new role via an SMS or skip this option.

  2. Activate the Share Info toggle switch. Then tap the sliders next to the items you’d like to include into your SOS messages. It could be your real-time geo-tag from Google Maps, an indication of battery charge level, or the time codes of your emergency calls.

  3. Set audio and video recording. Emergency video recording is available only for Android 13 products, while Galaxy family devices allow sending short five-second audio logs. The video recording is backed up in the user's Google account and shared as a link with your emergency contact.

As an option, we recommend filling out your medical data in the Safety & Emergency section. It is a comprehensive profile that contains information on your blood type, allergies, chronic diseases, and current medication you take. Medical information is available straight from the Lock Screen, and does not require any additional unlocking actions from you in case of an emergency. This way, paramedics or rescue team members could immediately provide you  professional assistance based on your previous health records  and possible allergies.  

How SOS Emergency Features Differ in Some Android Phones

Management of native Emergency SOS apps slightly differs from one Android device to another. For example, the Medical Information section is available on all Android 10 smartphones, but only Google Pixel phones offer more advanced features. In particular, they enable users to record videos up to 45-minutes in length and have a car crash detection function in Emergency SOS settings.

Also, if you use Samsung Galaxy phones, you should press the power button three times instead of five to deliver an SOS message. Samsung's built-in feature doesn't imply video recording in case of emergency. It can only take snapshots from front and rear cameras and attach them to text messages.

How to Use Emergency SOS Features on iOS?

To trigger the built-in feature on iPhone 8 or later, you need to press and hold the power button along with one of the volume buttons. You'll see an emergency SOS slider appear along with the Power switch and Medical ID sliders. 

To initiate an emergency call, swipe the slider or simply continue to hold the buttons pressed. Consequently, you'll hear the short alarm beep, and the countdown will start. Don’t release the buttons until the countdown runs to the end – then only it will dial 911 automatically. If you want to deactivate the Auto Call feature, you can disable it at no time at Settings > Emergency SOS.

PAY ATTENTION: To trigger the SOS screen, users of an iPhone 7 or earlier need to quickly press the power or top button five times.

Setting up SOS notifications and emergency contact on iOS 

To manage the emergency contacts on iOS 11 and later, go to the Health App > Medical ID and tap the Add button to indicate your SOS message addresses. Select the relationship of the added person and tap Done to confirm changes.

Your location data will be sent automatically to designated contacts once you've completed the call to 911. Unlike the SOS mode, you don't need to keep Location Services permanently enabled: it will switch temporarily. iPhone Health App shares your location link to Apple Maps in real-time. If the location changes, the app will periodically update your contacts about it. If you wish to save your battery level, go to Settings > Emergency SOS and turn off GPS-tracking by tapping Stop Sharing Emergency Location.

How Does the SOS Feature Work on Apple Watch?

Of course, we can’t but mention smartwatches among other wearable alert devices that come in handy in a hardship. With a smartwatch, there would be no problem reaching out to emergency contacts even if you went to unwind with your phone left at home. Besides, the owners of smartwatches can rely upon a fall detection algorithm as well.

To make SOS calls from Apple Watch, hold the side button of the Apple Watch until the slider menu appears. Just like with iPhone 8, you can either drag the Emergency SOS slider or keep pressing it until the 911 call starts. The settings of this feature are synched with those from Emergency SOS and the Medical ID of your iOS device. So don't forget to adjust them on your iPhone or iPad in advance.

How AllsWell Alert Enhances Your Smartphone’s Built-In SOS Emergency Features 

"Ok, so how can I notify my loved ones of an emergency situation when the phone is out of my reach?" – that's the question you're probably asking yourself after reading all this. Luckily, AllsWell Alert is here to offer you an outstanding combination of a panic button with inactivity monitoring technology. It reads your device's sensor responses to track whether you follow your normal activity patterns and sets off the alarm whenever there's a suspicious delay.

Therefore, AllsWell Alert doubles your personal safety precautions. After prolonged inactivity, it sends timely SOS messages with GPS location attached to your dearest and nearest completely automatically. In addition, you can use the panic button to trigger sending alerts via email and SMS to emergency contacts manually.

Go to AppStore and Google Play, where you can download the AllsWell personal safety app right now. There's a 30-day trial period with international coverage and full-fledged functionality available for new subscribers.

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