Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

What Is iOS 11's Emergency SOS Feature? Apple's New Update Could Save Lives

By
Share

The endless string of Apple updates is enough to make even the most avid phone user feeling a bit lost. But there is an added feature in the most recent iOS update that may pique your interest. So, what exactly is iOs 11's Emergency SOS feature? Apple may have just made it a little easier to get help when you feel threatened.

The Emergency SOS feature allows Apple customers to call emergency services virtually unnoticed, simply by clicking the "sleep/wake button" on the side of the phone rapidly, five times in a row, according to Mashable. Along with ringing the authorities for help, Emergency SOS also allows users to contact those close to them in the event of an emergency. By assigning emergency contacts within the feature, you can select who in your life you would want notified of your emergency. These contacts will receive a message stating that you have called for help, as well as your current location.

In order to utilize this feature, you'll first need to update your phone to iOs 11. Next, open your iPhone's Settings and scroll until you reach "Emergency SOS" and turn on the "autocall" function. While there, you can also add in an emergency contact that would be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Mashable points out that this update has great implications for women who have felt or could feel uncomfortable or afraid while walking home alone in the dark. Rather than make their suspicion and fear obvious, these women can make an emergency call without so much as unlocking their home screens. Talk about a game changer.

The women of Twitter seem to agree with this insight, as many of them have tweeted about the future to encourage one another to upgrade to iOS 11 and activate Emergency SOS autocall, with one particular tweet that shows the Emergency SOS screen going viral.

Sarah Green, co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition addressed the update in a statement, saying that it was a step in the right direction. "It's good to know that tech companies have their eye on solutions to counter abuse of women," she said, according to Mashable.

She added that her organization hoped that there would be more work done with the intention to "disable and prevent the use of invisible tracking and surveillance apps by abusive men." Others have warned that the feature is not a perfect solution. The women's rights organization Collective Shout explained to HuffPost UK that the new feature is "not without risk."

"If a woman should be caught trying to utilise this service in a domestic violence attack she may be in even greater danger," Collective Shout spokesperson Caitlin Roper told HuffPost.

She agreed that "any new technological developments that connect women with aid services and help keep them safe" are a good move, but stated that the world needs "a more holistic approach" when it comes to addressing domestic violence in particular.

The majority of the exicitement over the feature seems to be in relation to keeping women safe, and for good reason. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that one in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or successful sexual assault, and having an easy way to call for help without drawing too much attention to themselves could help prevent a number of these instances. However, it is not just women who are the victim of crimes. While women are more likely to be the victim of violent crimes like rape and assault, men are at risk as well. Seven in 10 men who participated in a recent crime survey by The Daily reported being the victim of such a crime.

Certain demographics have a higher likelihood of being victimized, but the uncomfortable truth is that anyone and everyone is at risk. Finding ways — like the Emergency SOS feature — for people in dangerous situations to receive help is an important part of keeping everyone safe. And fortunately, it seems like it's easy enough to use in a time of panic.

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.