IPhone SOS feature blamed for hundreds of false 911 calls

Jason Jimenez, public information officer at the Elk Grove Police Department, confirmed a report from CBS13 in Sacramento that emergency dispatchers have been fielding about 20 of the calls a day since October.

Emergency response teams in Sacramento County and Elk Grove, California, have taken more than 1,600 false alarm calls from an Apple refurbishment and fix site in the locality.

Dispatchers describe hearing people talking in the background about Apple devices, maintenance and repairs, but it's not clear how the calls are being triggered. Hudson later went on to say that the calls are taking away precious seconds from operators who have to deal with the calls and that the Emergency SOS function accidentally calling the station isn't helping at all.

Apple has confirmed that the accidental 911 calls are indeed coming from its fix and refurbishment center in Elk Grove and that the company is working on a solution.

'We call back and find out, 'oh it was my Apple Watch, I was exercising or I hit it wrong or hit the wrong button, ' a dispatcher told Michigan's WNEM.

What's causing the massive volume of accidental calls to be made is unclear. "We take this seriously, and we are working closely with local law enforcement to investigate the cause and ensure this doesn't continue", Apple said. The Apple Watch has a similar feature.

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Meanwhile, a user can also disable the auto-call feature if his/her device is making same mistakes more often.

iOS includes a feature called Emergency SOS that makes it easy to call 911 in times of need, but the feature has also reportedly led to a slew of accidental phone calls to emergency officials.

The latest Apple Watch has become notorious for accidentally calling the cops thanks to a minor design flaw that was meant to improve its user interface.

The key here is step two in this SOS process: "Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services".

You just have to open Apple watch application on your device, then tap the "My watch" option from general settings tap on Emergency SOS and turn off the option labeled "Hold to Auto Call".

On older iPhones, rapidly pressing the power button five times brings up a slider on the screen to call 911, while on the iPhone 8 and X pressing and holding the power button and a volume button brings up the slider.

  • Desiree Holland