In recent months, the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature has grabbed headlines for false alarms that have swamped 911 call centers. To counteract this, Apple says today’s release of iOS 16.3.1 includes further optimizations for crash detection…
Last report by The New York Times contained a handful of stories about accident detection being falsely triggered by skiers in Colorado. This report was particularly harsh, with quotes from first responders expressing frustration at how bogus crash detection calls are affecting their ability to do their jobs.
Some first responders have gone so far as to ask iPhone users to turn off crash detection entirely due to the influx of false alarms. Crash detection has also been falsely triggered on roller coasters, prompting some amusement parks to put up signs telling riders to leave their iPhones behind.
However, at the same time, Crash Detection has already helped save the lives of iPhone 14 users who actually got into a car accident. Apple strikes a tricky balance between ensuring the feature correctly detects real car crashes and minimizing false positives.
Apple’s solution to crash detection false positives
Crash detection on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro uses G-Force sensors in combination with other data to detect a crash. Apple has described it as a “fairly dynamic algorithm” and is working to refine that algorithm as it learns more about real-world crash detection.
iOS 16.1.2, released back in November 2022, included what Apple called “crash detection optimizations on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models.” This change was largely in response to early stories about triggering crash detection on roller coasters.
With today’s release of iOS 16.3.1, Apple has more changes in store for crash detection. The company is again vague in its release notes: “Crash detection optimizations on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models.”
Apple has collected feedback from call centers affected by crash detection false positives. The company has even dispatched engineers and other representatives to monitor affected teams. The hope is that iOS 16.3.1 will solve or at least drastically improve the problem of false alarms in crash detection – whether that will come true remains to be seen.
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