Besides the controlled collision which we’ve already covered before this, many have reported that Apple’s new Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14 series and the current generation Apple Watches has been working as intended. Perhaps a little too well, even for certain seemingly harmless situations.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the feature had been triggered not just once, but on six separate occasions involving iPhone 14 users riding a roller coaster at the Kings Island theme park in Cincinnati. Given that their devices were tucked away in their pockets or bags during the ride, it is no wonder that the individuals were not aware of the Crash Detection’s confirmation prompt, let alone be capable of dismissing it.
This in turn resulted in the sent outs of automated calls or messages to emergency contacts and first responders. “The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone,” the automated message said, along with a short recording of the incident. The latter played noises of people screaming and cheering, music, and other sounds you’d usually hear from an amusement park, the authorities said. Meanwhile, concerned loved ones who also received the message tried to call the owners but to no avail.
Sara White, one of the iPhone 14 owners involved, was surprised to find that she had received several missed calls and voicemails once she was able to access her phone after getting off the roller coaster ride. One voicemail from emergency dispatchers even concerningly asked whether she was okay. Finally realising this, White then returned all calls – ironically, when in line for the bumper car rides – and confirmed with everyone that she is alright.
To recap, the new Crash Detection feature on current generation iPhones and Apple Watches relies on the devices’ onboard sensors to determine whether users are involved in severe crashes, usually when fast motion is detected and is then followed by a sudden halt. However, as proven by these incidents, the function’s algorithms are still not capable of knowing the difference between a thrilling ride and a lethal crash, thus resulting in false alarms. In response to WSJ’s query, an Apple spokesperson said that the company will continue to improve the feature over time.
For now, it is advisable to have your phones turned off when participating in thrill rides like roller coasters and such in order to prevent triggering the Crash Detection feature. You can also opt to temporarily disable it via Settings before getting on, but be sure to remember to reactivate it once you’re done. Alternatively, activating Airplane Mode will also turn the feature off.