Android phones just got a life-saving update for the Personal Safety app

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Select Android phones will be receiving a literal life-saving update allowing users to instantly share critical medical information with first responders. 

The feature will be available on the Personal Safety app, and the way it works, according to developer RapidSOS, is the software will send over the information whenever a call is placed to a “supported emergency number – like 911.” Or if they prefer, people can choose to send everything via text message. What that batch of data houses is totally up to you, but it can include your name, allergies that you have, pre-existing conditions, emergency contacts, what kind of medication you’re on, and more. 

Everything listed out will be seen by first responders, and you’ll know what’s being shared as it will all appear on the app alongside other important information. If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because iPhones have something very similar called Medical ID. It was even made by the same company: RapidSOS.

To activate this feature, launch Personal Safety, go to Your info, enter Emergency info access, then toggle Share during emergency call. 

Various limitations

As great as this update may be, there are several limitations.

First off, it looks like this will only be available in certain regions in the United States. The announcement doesn’t mention any other emergency contact number besides 911. We couldn’t find a full list of supporting locations although the post does hint at Baltimore, Maryland as one of the cities.

Second, Personal Safety is not a widespread app. It’s currently exclusive to the Nothing Phone 1 as well as the entire Google Pixel lineup. Do note that Pixel 4a and later models automatically come with the software (older devices will have to manually download it). It's important to mention that the Pixel Watch has Personal Safety, but may not be included in the rollout. It seems the patch is purely for smartphones. Also, those phones must be running Android 12 or above.

We tried reaching RapidSOS to ask which US regions will support the data sharing and if it intends to roll out the feature to other countries. This tech runs on Android’s Emergency Location Service which exists in other global regions. However, the company doesn’t seem to have a straightforward way for members of the press to contact them. So, we sent our query over to Google. Hopefully, they’ll be able to shed some light soon.

Until then, check out TechRadar’s list of the best Pixel phones for 2023

Update 12-8-2023 5:15 PM:  A Google representative got back to us with more information, and as it turns out, the feature's availability is contingent on outside factors. They explain that "users in any country can [technically] enter this information" and send it out to emergency services, but it depends on whether or not a country's network supports Android's Emergency Location Service.

Similarly, the Personal Safety upgrade can be used throughout the US. However, it depends on if "911/112 call centers and cellular networks" decide to actively support the feature. The same goes for other phones. It's up to third-party manufacturers to decide if they want the app on their hardware. It's out of the hands of both Google and RapidSOS.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.