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Apple Watch and iPhone Owners Are Mistakenly Triggering Emergency SOS Calls

March 19, 2018, 2:59 PM UTC

A growing number of Apple Watch and iPhone users are mistakenly alerting police to emergencies.

People on Twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere have said that they’ve mistakenly called emergency services from their Apple products while sleeping. The problem, according to The Verge, which earlier reported on it, appears to be caused by the ease with which users can call for help from one of Apple’s products. And if those users are asleep, they might not know what’s happened until police wake them up.

Apple released an Emergency SOS feature in watchOS 4 and iOS 11 last year. On the Apple Watch, when users hold down the crown button for a period of time, an emergency call will be initiated. On the iPhone, users need only tap five times or hold down the button on the side and the emergency call will begin. A screen comes up on either device to stop the call, but those who don’t act quickly enough will fail to stop the inadvertent call.

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According to the report, the problem appears to be especially present at night, when people wearing Apple Watch are sleeping. A move in the wrong direction and users will press down the crown button, activating the call. And since they’re asleep, they likely won’t realize they’ve made the call and stop it.

Whether it’s actually a problem, however, is debatable. The feature was brought to Apple’s operating systems to help people in emergency situations quickly call for help. And it’s designed to be easy enough that in serious situations, it won’t require several steps to call emergency responders.

Still, if you’re not so fond of the feature, Apple offers the ability to turn it off in Settings. On an iPhone, tap Settings, then choose Emergency SOS. In there, you can turn off calling with the side button. You can also require that your iPhone confirm you want to make the call before it’s actually placed.