Skype has updated its mobile and desktop apps to allow emergency calling in the U.S. for the first time in its 18-year history. Calls to 911 are also possible via Skype’s web-based service, notes for the recently released Skype 8.80 showed.
Emergency calling from Skype could come in handy if you find yourself in a tricky situation without a phone but have a computer close by, or if phone lines are down but you can get online.
An important part of the 911 feature is the ability to let emergency operators know your precise location so that first responders can easily find you. This will be useful in situations where you don’t know your precise position or if it’s simply easier to send automatically generated location data rather than trying to explain where you are — something that’s not always easy to do in a high-stress situation.
Take note, though, 911 emergency location sharing is turned off by default in a nod to privacy. To enable it, jump into Skype, select your profile picture, then Settings, and then Privacy. Finally, turn on 911 emergency location sharing. If you have any problems setting it up, you may need to allow location sharing from the settings menu on your device.
Skype points out that you’ll also have to acknowledge messages for “Notices & Disclosures” and “Special 911 Warning of Limitations & Unavailability” to complete the process of setting up the emergency location sharing feature.
Skype has been gradually increasing the number of countries where you can use the service to make emergency calls. You can see the full list here.
Skype’s latest update also increases the maximum length of voice messages from two minutes to five, and lets you zoom in during a screen share to get a better look at text or something else that you need to see more clearly.
For everything you need to know about how to use Skype, Digital Trends has you covered.
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