Your iPhone might have a new capability as soon as next year: detecting a car accident and automatically dialing 911. Apple plans to unveil a feature called "crash detection" for both iPhones and Watches, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The feature would supposedly use sensors like the accelerometer built into Apple devices.
Apple has reportedly been working on the feature for several years and testing it using real world data. According to documents seen by the WSJ, Apple has been collecting data shared anonymously from iPhone and Watch users. It has detected more than 10 million suspected vehicle impacts, with more than 50,000 of those accompanied by a call to 911. Apple has been using that data to improve the accuracy of its crash-detection algorithm, since a 911 emergency call is pretty solid confirmation of a serious crash.
It's certainly not first to the gate with this. Google introduced a similar feature for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 via its Personal Safety app that can detect when you've been in a car crash and alert emergency services. GM has been offering it for years in its cars with OnStar, and recently introduced crash detection to smartphones via the OnStar Guardian app. OnStar's in-vehicle service reportedly responds to over 6,000 crash notifications a month, as the WSJ noted.
Apple introduced fall-detection to the Apple Watch 4 series, and it can automatically call emergency services and contact your loved ones if you don't respond to a prompt in a certain amount of time. The crash-detection feature is supposed to come out for iPhone and Apple Watches in 2022, provided everything goes to plan.