New iPhone 14 crash detection plagued by false alarms

Maybe he can learn something from the Pixels

One of the benefits of living in 2022 is all the vital technology we have on our wrists or in our pockets. If you’re wearing an Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, or, soon enough, a Pixel Watch, your device is able to tell when you’ve fallen and call for help when you can’t. Android and Apple devices can also detect when you’ve been involved in a car accident. That said, a number of Apple Watch and iPhone owners found that their collision detection feature was perhaps a little too eager to call 911.


A dispatch center in Warren County, Ohio shared six calls with The Wall Street Journal from iPhones whose owners were not involved in a car accident, but were taking rides on Kings Island, the local amusement park. Wandering reports have also come in from park goers at Six Flags Great America near Chicago.

When an iPhone 14 series, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2nd generation or Apple Watch Ultra device detects a crash based on the sensor and location data, the device initiates the SOS mode of emergency and, if not addressed within 10 seconds, will call 911. Dispatchers will hear an automated message that the device owner was “in a serious motor vehicle accident” and is unable to answer. Ambient sound around the device fades as the message repeats and location data is sent. Other actions may take place depending on how the user has configured Emergency SOS, including sending an SMS to an emergency contact.

Various anecdotes are shared regarding the detail of different mechanical misunderstandings, from people doing thrill rides to a loosely strapped iPhone 14 Pro Max flying off a motorcyclist. While the number of false positives generated by this buggy feature may be relatively small, any one of them can tie up first responders and resources from another potential emergency that actually requires a response.

An Apple spokesperson defended the technology to the Journal, saying it will improve over time and the feature provides peace of mind.

Google’s Android smartphones from the Pixel 3 series with Android 13 or later interpret ambient sound in addition to analyzing sensor and location data to determine if a crash has occurred. The company has an edge with its deep experience in automatic sound analysis via Google Assistant and other ambient features.

Both Apple and Google’s methods generate valid crash reports, but since we hear more growth issues from one camp than the other, it would be fair to think that Apple could do better here.

Thanks: Armando