How to Use Emergency SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Starting with iOS 11, Apple added a new emergency feature to the iPhone, which is designed to allow you to quickly and discreetly place a call to emergency services. In the United States, SOS dials 911, and in other countries, it works with local emergency response teams.

    Emergency SOS is activated through a series of button presses on an iPhone running iOS 11 or later, and the buttons you need to press will vary based on your device. On the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and older iPhones, rapidly press the Side button on the right of the device five times to activate Emergency SOS.

    On the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, you will need to press and hold on the Side button while also holding one of the two Volume buttons at the same time.

    When you use these gestures, it brings up a slider bar that allows you to slide a finger across the screen to quickly place an emergency call. While this slider screen is the default option and is in place to make sure you don't accidentally place a 911 call, there's also an option to enable "Auto Call" for initiating a 911 call as soon as you activate Emergency SOS.


    When you use Emergency SOS on an iPhone, the feature also disables Touch ID, preventing a would-be thief or other person with malicious intent from accessing your device without entering your passcode. It also automatically alerts any emergency contacts you've set in the Health app, sending them an iMessage with your location.

    Enabling Auto Call

    SOS is automatically included on every iPhone running iOS 11 and there is no disabling it. Activate it by pressing on the sleep/wake button five times in rapid succession to bring up the swipe interface. If you want the feature to call emergency services automatically without the need for an extra gesture, here's how to toggle it on:
    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Scroll down to "Emergency SOS."
    3. Toggle on "Auto Call."
    4. To turn it off, simply toggle off Auto Call.
    With Auto Call enabled, your phone will dial "911" (or your country's emergency line) after a three second countdown that gives you enough time to cancel the call if it's placed accidentally.

    SOS on the Apple Watch

    On the Apple Watch, an emergency call can be placed when you press and hold down on the side button for several seconds in a row. When you set up your Apple Watch, Apple prompts you to turn it on, but if you didn't, you can still choose to do so later.

    On the Apple Watch, it's a lot easier to accidentally make an emergency call if something presses against the side button, so many people may not want this feature on. Here's how to turn it on:
    1. Open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.
    2. Scroll down to General and tap it.
    3. Look for Emergency SOS. It's the sixth option.
    4. Tap to the Emergency SOS interface.
    5. Toggle on "Hold to Auto Call."
    6. To turn it off again, toggle off Hold to Auto Call.
    Setting Emergency Contacts

    As mentioned above, whenever you use the SOS feature, Apple will automatically notify your emergency contacts if you have them set. Emergency contacts can be set up in the Health app:
    1. Open the Health app.
    2. Choose Medical ID.
    3. Select "Edit" in the top right corner.
    4. Scroll down to the Emergency Contacts section.
    5. Tap the "+" button to add an emergency contact.
    You can add multiple emergency contacts, each of which will receive a text message with your location if you ever use the Emergency SOS feature.

    Article Link: How to Use Emergency SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch
  2. weup togo macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2016
    Countdown to people being stopped by the police sticking their hands in their pockets to secure their iPhones, and getting shot for it.
  3. sulpfiction macrumors 68040


    Aug 16, 2011
    Philadelphia Area
    Way to take a good feature and twist it all up. That will never happen. Why the heck would u need to “secure” ur iPhone when a cop pulls u over?? Your comment makes absolutely zero sense.
  4. GrumpyMom macrumors G3


    Sep 11, 2014
    Oh for fish cakes sakes, how the heck am I going to get myself coordinated enough in an emergency to hold the volume button up and the power switch down on the IPhone X without dropping it or getting all messed up. I know myself, I've already had to make an emergency call to my husband. I will drop the damned thing trying to handle two buttons on opposite sides at the same time. Or I'll hit the volume down switch like I accidentally always do when I'm trying to turn my sound up.

    I guess I'd better just hang onto my iPhone 7 Plus. Five clicks on the power button, got it. In an emergency my hand will probably be twitching nervously anyway.
  5. Böhme417 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2009
    Don't be silly. Most of those people will already have their phone firmly in their hand. Pockets... ha! You can watch most people on the road and know their phones are far from being in their pockets.
  6. hektor6tygr macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2014
    Discretely? Mine makes an alarm sound when I activate it....
  7. adamjackson macrumors 68000

    Jul 9, 2008
    I am legitimately interested in how well MacRumors does in SEO / Google Referrals over the next 12 months on posts like this versus their standard daily news/ rumor posts.

    I see non Apple KBASE docs ranking higher on Google lately (for some reason) even though the answer is in KBASE w/o any advertisements. Looks like MR is getting into that game as well. I hope it pays off for them. It's just a bit annoying to us RSS subscribers who know how to use these features or read KBASE iOS11 release notes to learn about all of these features proactively.

    It's going to be great for people Googling things.
  8. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    These kinds of how to articles have been around for some time now. For example, iOS 10 was similarly covered.
  9. me51582 macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    There's an option to disable the sound
  10. mattyj2001 macrumors member


    Oct 29, 2015
    I don't think that will happen much either, but look up 'civil forfeiture' and read up on it. It's a real, actual problem in a lot of US states.
  11. Rajani Isa macrumors 65816

    Rajani Isa

    Jun 8, 2010
    Rogue Valley, Oregon
    By secure, they mean disable Touch/FaceID. In part due to the fact that some mid-level courts have held that while passwords are protected by 5th Amendment protections, fingerprints (and most likely, faces) are not.

    So you'd do this to prevent the cops from forcing you to unlock your phone for whatever reason with your fingerprint or Face.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 21, 2017 ---
    I think it's more the forced unlock rather than civil forfeiture.
  12. Jeaz macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2009
    Had to disable it in my Apple Watch after my 2 year old son accidentally called SOS Alarm as we call it here. :)
  13. bjoswald macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2016
    I’d rather unlock the phone and call 9-1-1 myself.
  14. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    And government snooping is a real big deal. I used to setup notebooks for business people who traveled internationally because of TSA/ICE/whomever 'detaining' notebooks and tablets and vacuuming everything off of them. That practice started under Bush43, and still continues, AFAIK. Businesses were afraid of the government getting sensitive and proprietary information, and with good reason. The government essentially took over the product of a software developer a number of years ago.

    The government wants to know everything about us, yet doesn't want to tell us anything about them. FISA warrants, and border information gathering are just part of it. Will local police be in on the data mining? Stay tuned.

    It's wise to be prepared, and locking your device is prudent. And the old saying that 'if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear' isn't true anymore, and never actually was. COINTELPRO is coming back. It's likely already here.
  15. H3LL5P4WN macrumors 68020


    Jun 19, 2010
    Pittsburgh PA
  16. KazKam macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2011
    It should be three quick presses, not five.

    Three is enough to not be triggered accidentally too often, but convenient enough to not be cumbersome or awkward. Five is too many, IMO.
  17. phillytim macrumors 65816


    Aug 12, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    Regardless, I love that Apple finally gives us this great feature.
  18. Creepitor, Sep 21, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  19. KazKam macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2011
    It's not about "feeling" awkward, it's about "being" awkward. Maybe awkward is the wrong word... overly-fidley? In many emergency situations, time and timing is of the essence, three vs five button clicks might be the difference between activating the feature and not.
  20. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    It's really pretty hard to mess this up - just keep frantically pressing the power button, and the feature activates in less than a second. Just tried doing this with the phone in my packet, and it's really easy, even under duress.
  21. Creepitor, Sep 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  22. ovo6 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2015
    So if I turn off location device for sos it won’t sent location
  23. Jayci macrumors newbie


    Jan 31, 2018
    At the bottom of the “SOS” settings is a button to silence the countdown.

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22 September 20, 2017