If you’re in the UK and have an Android phone then there’s a chance that your device will make a loud, siren-like sound sometime between 1pm and 2pm today (June 22), but it’s nothing to worry about.
It’s a test for the Government’s emergency alert service, which is set to launch this summer, and you probably won’t even get the alert, with the chance being “small” according to the Government’s site. If you do get it, the alert will say: “This is a mobile network operator test of the Emergency Alerts service. You do not need to take any action. To find out more, search for gov.uk/alerts.”
While today's test will only be sent to Android users, a subsequent test between 1pm and 2pm on June 29 may also be received by iPhone users, but that test is only being carried out in Reading, while this initial test is UK-wide.
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Stay informed or opt out
If you’d rather opt out of some emergency alerts you can do so by searching for ‘emergency alerts’ on your phone’s settings menu, and turning off ‘Severe alerts’. That said, it’s not recommended, as you could miss warnings about floods, fires, terrorist incidents and more.
The most important alerts will be pushed through regardless, but we’d argue that anything important enough to be worth sending an alert for is probably worth knowing about.
Oh, and if you’re worried about the privacy implications of this system there’s no need to be, as none of your details (not even your phone number) are required to receive the alerts – they’re simply sent out from phone masts in relevant locations to every handset within range.