Google to add a life-saving feature to Android 12 — users can discreetly call 911

Android 12 leaked screenshots showing theming and new widgets
Android 12 (Image credit: XDA Developers)

Android 12 plans to save lives with a new emergency feature that will allow users to discreetly dial 911 without needing to look at the screen (via AndroidPolice).

Today, Google released the first developer preview of Android 12. This means only developers currently have access to this new safety-minded update, however, this is the one time we hope you don't ever have to take a new feature for a spin.

Android 12's upcoming new emergency feature

Let's cross our fingers that this never happens to you, but there may be moments when you don't have the luxury of looking at your screen to call for help — you'll want to be able to discreetly dial 911 without drawing the attention of seedy characters.

Fortunately, should you find yourself in any trouble, Google is adding a new feature that lets Android users dial 911 with five quick presses of the power button, which will launch a countdown before calling an emergency service dispatcher. You can also change the default emergency number your Android phone dials.

There is a similar version of the Android 12 feature, called Emergency SOS, found on iOS. Instead of five presses, however, the iOS version requires a long press of the power button. After the emergency call ends, iOS users can configure their iPhones to alert their emergency contacts with text messages after 911 is called. The iPhone also sends the distressed user's location to the aforementioned emergency contacts.

Google and Apple's forward-thinking emergency features are well-received. With our phones often being our only outlets for seeking help in dangerous situations, having the option to make discreet 911 calls is highly appreciated.

Developers who want to explore Android 12 can now do so on the following devices: Pixel 3, 3a, 4, 4a, 4a 5G, or 5. Android 12 is expected to roll out to the public later this year.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!