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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
52,112
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There's an Emergency SOS feature built into iOS 11 that has hidden functionality -- it automatically disables Touch ID and makes it so your passcode has to be entered to unlock your iPhone.

Because it essentially shuts down the biometrics on your device, you can't be compelled by a police officer or malicious person to unlock your iPhone with a fingerprint, nor can your fingerprint be used to get into your device should you be unconscious after an emergency. On iPhone X, this also applies to Face ID.

Emergency SOS is enabled by default, and there's only one step to activate it: Press on the sleep/wake (Side) button of your iPhone five times in rapid succession. On the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, instead of pressing the Side button five times rapidly, you hold down the Side button and one of the volume buttons at the same time. It's essentially a quick squeeze on either side of the device.

disabletouchidios11-800x708.jpg

These gestures initiates a screen that gives you the option to power the iPhone off, make a call to emergency services, or access your Medical ID.

Though not expressly stated, once your iPhone is in this emergency state, Touch ID is disabled. You will, however, have to press the cancel button to get back to the Home screen, so it's not an entirely secretive process.

If you're using Emergency SOS to disable the lock screen and don't want to set the feature up to automatically call 911 when the sleep/wake button is pressed, make sure to disable Auto Call in the Settings app. Here's how:
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Emergency SOS.
    emergencysossettings-800x707.jpg
  3. Disable Auto Call.
With Auto Call disabled, pressing sleep/wake will bring up the aforementioned screen with the option to slide to make the emergency call. With Auto Call enabled, emergency services are called automatically when the sleep/wake button is pressed five times, following a five second countdown timer.

It's best to leave Auto Call on if you want to be able to get in touch with emergency services immediately should you be in danger.

While this feature was likely built to keep your iPhone secure in a situation where you might be incapacitated, it can also prevent authority figures from forcing you to unlock your device.

This is notable because there have been legal rulings where a defendant has been compelled to provide a fingerprint, but not a passcode. Most people will never need to disable Touch ID, but it's worth knowing the option is there should there be a situation where it is necessary.

Article Link: How to Discreetly Disable Touch ID and Face ID on an iPhone
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
6,346
13,054
Always entering a passcode can be inconvenient (when Touch ID is & Face ID is permanently disabled in SETTINGS). But permanently disabling biometric authentication solves a lot of security problems.

Touch ID (and Face ID) is a marginalized convenience. If you want the best security, don't use it.
 
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Bigsk8r

macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2011
339
584
Austin, Texas
Just tried it out. Although I didn't wait for the emergency service call to go thru, I like that the 5 quick pushes got to that screen right away. In 2 seconds, you can completely put the phone in a state where you can't be legally compelled to open it.

Although I don't ever see the need for this option, I can see where lawyers, doctors, and potentially a few other professions would have a completely legal, privacy based reason to want to ensure that confidential client "evidence" could not be acquired from them without thorough due process involving a judge.
 
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KWNJr

macrumors newbie
Sep 22, 2017
1
0
Note: this does not seem to be available for iPads without celluar feature.
 
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SoN1NjA

macrumors 68020
Feb 3, 2016
2,020
2,121
the pool
I do not feel comfortable disabling Auto Call, if I'm in a serious emergency I want to be able to ring 911 as soon as possible
 
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OS X Dude

macrumors 6502a
Jun 30, 2007
992
247
UK
I thought Side + Volume Up captured a screenshot on the X? Unless that’s Side + Volume Down?
 
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mindsaspire

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2013
55
66
Useful feature. Hopefully I'll never have to use it, but good to know it's there.
Yes, a nice feature hope to never have to use. Maybe a small detail, but I noticed that the message shown is "Touch ID does not recognize your fingerprint", which also provides a little more protection since it doesn't indicate that you disabled Touch ID or even own the phone necessarily.
 
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JRoDDz

macrumors 68000
Jul 2, 2009
1,911
117
NYC
Yes, a nice feature hope to never have to use. Maybe a small detail, but I noticed that the message shown is "Touch ID does not recognize your fingerprint", which also provides a little more protection since it doesn't indicate that you disabled Touch ID or even own the phone necessarily.

Plausible deniability.
 
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davidoff86

macrumors newbie
Jun 30, 2015
2
0
Jesus - just tried this & my phone started making what can only be described as a panic alarm sound !!
 
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shamus99

macrumors regular
Dec 20, 2014
171
87
nor can your fingerprint be used to get into your device should you be unconscious after an emergency.
If you are unconscious, how do you hit the button five times.

People... enough of this crazy paranoid stuff. Unless you are a murderer, kiddie molester or big time drug dealer the police don’t really care about your phone. If a cop gets in your phone illegally, it is thrown out in court.

And for Gods sake, if you are being robbed, give them the damn phone. Disable it later or track it with the police. They can’t do anything without your icloud passcode.
 
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mijail

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2010
556
136
People... enough of this crazy paranoid stuff. Unless you are a murderer, kiddie molester or big time drug dealer the police don’t really care about your phone. If a cop gets in your phone illegally, it is thrown out in court.

Yeah, because we all know that the police is always professional and lawful (and that laws are always and unequivocally fair and humane); and that when the police do something wrong (which never happens anyway, right?) they get promptly and unequivocally punished, bringing back balance to the world.

Also, you forgot to say "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

/s
All you have to do is restart or turn off the device. And the result is the same and easier. o_O

You seem to use an interesting definition of "discreetly".
 
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shamus99

macrumors regular
Dec 20, 2014
171
87
Yeah, because we all know that the police is always professional and lawful (and that laws are always and unequivocally fair and humane); and that when the police do something wrong (which never happens anyway, right?) they get promptly and unequivocally punished, bringing back balance to the world.

Also, you forgot to say "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

/s


You seem to use an interesting definition of "discreetly".
What are you hiding in your phone?
 
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Hotshoe

macrumors member
Oct 28, 2017
79
44
Seattle, WA
Thanks. Good tip. Also, I was playing around and discovered if you lock your phone and then open Medical ID, you’ll be required to enter PIN to re-enable Touch ID and sign-in.
 
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gluckett

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2009
209
115

I would say so - just slide to power off instead of entering SOS mode. You must enter the passcode when powering back up, so I consider that easier than going and disabling your SOS auto-call which you may actually need at some point...
 
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NT1440

Contributor
May 18, 2008
12,673
16,347
If you are unconscious, how do you hit the button five times.

People... enough of this crazy paranoid stuff. Unless you are a murderer, kiddie molester or big time drug dealer the police don’t really care about your phone. If a cop gets in your phone illegally, it is thrown out in court.

And for Gods sake, if you are being robbed, give them the damn phone. Disable it later or track it with the police. They can’t do anything without your icloud passcode.
So much faith in a system that refuses to allow DNA tests for death row inmates 20+ years down the road....
 
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