The latest and greatest mobile phone safety features

Saf Malik
July 1, 2021

The safety features built into modern mobile phones are frequently undiscovered and thus underused. Yet, whether it be Android or iPhone, there a fantastic range of genuinely helpful safety features that frequently come as standard on modern smartphones. 

Believe it or not, your phone can do a great deal more than simply dial 999, and when you think about it, the fact that a phone would be an integral part of any home or personal safety system is almost obvious. Not only is communication an absolute lifesaver in all sorts of perilous situations, but the smart technology offered by modern phones has obvious potential for coordinating safety and security infrastructure. 

Much has been made recently for the Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications in-home safety, building security, and fire safety. Defined as a system of interconnected sensors and objects that can in turn control automated responses to, say, a fire breaking out or an intruder breaking in, it seems almost obvious that a smartphone could be an extension of such technology. 

Perhaps alerts with added data on any given safety situation could be sent to your phone; maybe fire suppressant technology could be remotely operated, removing the need to manhandle heavy lithium fire extinguishers or unfurl fire blankets in the heat of the moment. We are stepping into the future somewhat – not all of these technologies exist, and they certainly aren’t standard – but it serves to illustrate the potential a smartphone has when it comes to safety. 

Yet, although we are not at that point yet, we very nearly are. And smartphones already come loaded with several great safety features that could bring peace of mind to your day-to-day life. Do you know what they are? Whether iPhone or Android, there are many underutilised features to explore. We have discussed smartphone safety’s future, so here is its futuristic present – iPhone safety and security features.

Emergency SOS Mode

The Emergency SOS mode is essentially a fast way to call the emergency services and retrieve other helpful medical information and contacts without unlocking the phone. In an emergency, you will require both essential contacts (not least the emergency services) as well as medical information, specific to you, that can be easily accessible by anyone who finds your phone. Having this information locked away is foolhardy at best. 

Launching the iPhone’s emergency SOS mode requires a different process depending on the iPhone you have. For the iPhone 7 and earlier models, rapidly clicking the power button five times will do so. For later models, pressing the volume and power buttons at the same time is the way to go. Of course, opening Settings and then selecting Emergency SOS will tell you how to launch it if you are not sure. 

Once Emergency SOS Mode has been activated, swiping the toggle switch will call the emergency services. If you have set up Emergency Contacts (which we’ll cover below), then a notification text with your current location will be ready to send to them. You can opt-out of this easily if you are not in danger. 

A very useful additional security feature offered by Emergency SOS is that it can protect your privacy in a situation where you may be forced to access your phone on the threat of violence. Emergency SOS temporarily deactivates TouchID and FaceID, meaning that your biometrics cannot be used to unlock your phone.

Medical ID and Emergency Contacts

The emergency contacts appearing when you activate the Emergency SOS mode are dependent on them having been set up. This is a very wise thing to do sooner rather than later and is in itself a great safety feature your smartphone offers. 

Your emergency contacts are part of the broad range of information that can be added to the health app for use in the case of an emergency. To add medical information, open the health app and then tap Medical ID in the lower right corner. Herein you can input all sorts of information that could be useful to medical personal or anyone who finds your phone in the event of an accident. This could include things like allergies, particular health conditions, or medications that you take. 

The Medical ID section of the health app is also where you can input your emergency medical contacts. To view medical information and emergency contacts on someone else’s phone, you can either activate Emergency SOS mode or alternatively tap “Emergency” in the lower-left corner of the lock screen. 

Do Not Disturb While Driving Mode

Car safety has been a priority for mobile phones ever since the first development of a hands-free call system and, in recent times, all phones have normally included some sort of car safety feature or “Driving mode”.

Yet with the rise of more advanced smartphones, there has also arisen the issue that they are very difficult to put down. Developers seem to have recognised (admitted?) this and thus Do Not Disturb While Driving Mode has been developed in order to curb the compulsion to look at a phone while behind the wheel. 

Do Not Disturb While Driving actually isn’t something that you have to activate every time you get into a car. When turned on, the phone will detect whenever you are in a moving car and will accordingly stay quiet and dark. If you are in fact only a passenger, it is very easy to simply tap “I’m Not Driving” to temporarily turn it off for the duration of that journey. 

When you are driving, a phone on this setting will not notify you of anything besides maps, navigation instructions, emergency notifications, timers, and alarms. If your phone receives a text while you are driving, the sender will receive an auto-generated response informing them that you are currently driving. 

The Do Not Disturb While Driving mode is also highly customisable and can be modified so as to allow notifications from certain contacts. You can customise how the feature is activated, whether that is automatically, manually, or when your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth system. This last setting is great for ensuring that it does not turn on every time you get inside any vehicle.

Android Alternatives

With Android phones, which can be manufactured by any number of mobile phone brands, there is a rough equivalent for all of the safety features we mentioned above. Because of the different manufacturers, the precise way to activate these features can vary a little.

The best equivalent to the Emergency SOS mode is to add emergency contacts to your lock screen. This can be done in “system settings”. It is also possible with Android phones to add a custom message to the lock screen, allowing you to personally instruct anyone who finds your phone on how to find your emergency contacts. To temporarily disable your phone’s biometric features, you can also activate Lockdown Mode, which is available in Lock Screen Preferences. 

The various safety features of the latest smartphones are consistently underutilised features. Considering all they offer and the real difference they could make in a dangerous situation, this can only be considered something of a mystery.

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