The “Emergency Mode” Every Smartphone Should Have

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Many new smartphones are already equipped with always-on voice recognition, so another way to initiate Emergency Mode could be a spoken trigger phrase: “I need emergency help,” or “Hey Siri, Fire!”

Queue everyone yelling “hey Siri, Fire!” all the time to trigger other people’s phones.

Apple iPhones already have this. When you try to unlock an iPhone it gives you the “passcode” screen. At the top there’s “Emergency” and if you press that you get the possibility to dial 911.

No, doing that would actually take some level of courage or whatever you want to call it. Most people who might want to do that wouldn’t because they would need the safe anonymity of the interest to trigger their assholish behaviors.

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Also, seems like a great idea to use “fire” as the trigger to use when black people are trying to record police encounters.


I listen to a lot of podcasts that end up devolving into yelling Siri/Google/Alexa commands to mess with listeners when talking about digital assistants.

Or when the Xbone came out and people would explain the voice commands and users Xboxs would respond.

Samsung Galaxy (at least starting with the S6, possibly earlier) have a feature that allows you to define contacts to be notified if you hit the power button 3 times quickly. It sends an MMS message with your location, pictures from the front and rear cameras, and 5 seconds of recorded audio. I only wish you could also have it send emails or place phone calls as well since my main emergency contact rarely leaves her phone on, and I would be happier if her phone also had this feature (I am talking to you HTC…).


The next version of Apple’s watchOS implements a “hold down the side button button to call local emergency services and alert an emergency contact” feature. India is actually mandating that this functionality be included in smartphones by 2017, so I can see this making its way to iOS on top of the existing “Emergency” dialer button on the lock screen sooner than later, too.

The ‘Health’ app on iOS lets you fill in contact info, medical conditions and medicines you take. Then from the Lock screen, emergency medical personnel can get this information without having to unlock the phone.

For an Android phone, would it be possible to write a Tasker script to run a given set of instructions (start ACLU app or Facebook live video, send a text, email the next 15 seconds of audio so you can send a quick summary, disable fingerprint unlock, etc.) if it sees a trigger like the 3 quick presses of the power button or a smartwatch app trigger?

Don’t know about iOS- are there Tasker analogs that might be able to do the same thing? It seems like a nice way to customize whatever you want your emergency mode to do. And you could have different emergency modes, depending on what triggers you have.

On a tangential note, would Tasker also be able to see login attempts and modes and modify the lockscreen? I like iOS’s fingerprint unlock that times out and would like to put that on my Android phone.

Given contemporary smartphone footage of note, the logical solution seems to be including an RF receiver so that the handset can automatically kick into emergency mode when a police radio is nearby.

Tasker can certainly do most of these things. The trick is how to easily trigger it in an emergency (the reason I like the Galaxy triple press of the power button is that it can be done without removing the phone from its holster or otherwise drawing attention), but you might be able to trigger on something similar (power on, volume max, volume down within a short window, or something like that).

I didn’t think this was Galaxy specific, but maybe it is, Samsung’s can be set to wipe the phone when the wrong fingerprint or password is entered too many times. I would be surprised if other phones with fingerprint readers don’t have something similar. And all Android phones can make emergency calls even when locked.


That’s only a tiny part of what the article talks about and doesn’t solve any of the problems with older 911 systems not being able to locate people calling from cell phones.

“A protestor being arrested can’t be compelled by police to unlock their phone with their fingerprint”

The article says they CAN be compelled, with a warrant.

One way to trigger it would be with a smartwatch. I like that the Pebble has long-press shortcuts, and there is a Tasker compatible app.

That way you don’t even have to reach for your phone, but it could still record. Heck, have the Pebble Time also record audio.

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