With New iPhones, Apple Is Offering Services It Hopes You Never Need to Use

By Anna Breuer on 12 September 2022
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Apple is already known for what legitimately could be considered its life-saving smart watch that has located and helped lost hikers, passengers involved in a small plane crash, someone who fell into a frozen stream, and even somehow a person who somehow got trapped in a trash compactor.

Indeed, such emergency scenarios took center stage at Apple’s recent launch event where it introduced the new iPhone 14 family of smartphones as well as a new Apple Watch. 

The most likely scenario a typical Apple customer might find himself in is a car crash.  Many modern automobiles have offered Automatic Collision (or Crash) Notification (referred to as ACN) and some now have Advanced Automatic Collision Notification.  These systems use a multitude of sensors and the vehicle’s telematics system to determine when a car is involved in a moderate or severe front, rear, or side-impact crash and send the location and details of the accident to a call center, where dispatchers then contact emergency services.  The newer systems can help determine whether injured drivers and passengers might need treatment at a trauma center.

Now your new iPhone or Apple Watch can do almost the same.

“We truly hope you never need it but that you will feel a little bit safer every time you get in the car,” an Apple presenter said, moments before rolling another commercial where a driver gets hit by an air bag, in slow motion, after crashing.

The newest iPhones use a dual-core accelerometer, barometer, and other sensors to detect the incident and, if the user is unresponsive after a ten-second countdown, it will call emergency services and share your location data.  The feature relies on new algorithms Apple developed using over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data.

“It looks like you’ve been in a crash,” the iPhone display will say.  “IPhone will trigger emergency SOS if you don’t respond.”

The other significant feature Apple refers to as “Emergency SOS via satellite.”  The emergency system can send a help message even if there’s no cellular service where the user is.   The user can also share his location with friends and family via the FindMy app.

While Apple used the example of a hiker with a broken leg on top of a mountain ridge who needed a helicopter rescue, while it is more likely that the feature will see some use during flash floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, as well as situations when cellular service might be down.

With these features, Apple is paving the way to offer a suite of safety services that it can eventually charge for.

Apple said the satellite service would be offered free for two years and didn’t indicate what the cost would be after that period.  Apple had not responded to a request for comment at press time concerning future pricing.

Subscription services aren’t new to Apple.   The company already offers Apple Fitness for $9.9 per month, proprietary television programming, Apple TV+, and curated games, Apple Arcade, each costing $4.99 per month.  Apple offers several bundled versions under the Apple One brand starting at $14.95 monthly. 

It therefore stands to reason that a potential safety subscription that would complement existing services and offer additional peace of mind to Apple customers is now in the planning stages.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)