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iPhone 14 safety features alert rescuers after canyon plunge

The iPhone 14’s Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via satellite are features you really hope you’ll never have to use. But if you do, you’ll be mighty thankful for them.

Such was the case for a young couple in California earlier this week when their vehicle left the road and plummeted 300 feet into a canyon on the Angeles Forest Highway in Angeles National Forest, about 20 miles northeast of Central Los Angeles.

The Montrose Search & Rescue Team said the call for help came via both Crash Detection and Emergency SOS on a phone belonging to one of the vehicle’s occupants.

A helicopter was dispatched to rescue the male and female before flying them to the hospital where they were treated for “mild to moderate” injuries.

Montrose Search & Rescue posted footage of the rescue on Twitter.

Deputies, Fire Notified of Vehicle Over the Side Via iPhone Emergency Satellite Service

This afternoon at approximately 1:55 PM, @CVLASD received a call from the Apple emergency satellite service. The informant and another victim had been involved in a single vehicle accident

— Montrose Search & Rescue Team (Ca.) (@MontroseSAR) December 14, 2022

The two features launched with Apple’s iPhone 14 in the fall, and also work with recent versions of the Apple Watch.

Crash Detection automatically alerts first responders and your emergency contacts if the system detects that you’ve been in a traffic accident. It works using the phone’s dual-core accelerometer, which can sense a sudden change in speed that suggests an accident has occurred. Emergency SOS, on the other hand, lets you utilize satellites to send out alerts from a location that has no Wi-Fi or cellphone service, as was the case here. Interestingly, this was a neat example of the two features working together, as Crash Detection used Emergency SOS to send out the alert.

At the current time, Emergency SOS is available in North America, the U.K., Ireland, France, and Germany. It’s free for two years, though Apple has yet to reveal the cost after that time. Crash Detection works on all iPhone 14 devices.

It’s been a few months since the features launched with the iPhone 14, so this isn’t the first story about how they’ve been helping out in extreme situations. In October, for example, Crash Detection automatically called first responders following a car accident in Indianapolis.

But the system appears to have some quirks, as recent reports suggested Crash Detection was sending out 911 calls from roller coaster rides, some of which can stop abruptly. An Apple spokesperson said at the time that the Crash Detection feature is “extremely accurate in detecting severe crashes” and would improve over time.

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Trevor Mogg
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