Google is bringing the ability to request emergency assistance using just text, meaning you can get emergency services to your location without having to speak.
The feature will allow people to make a call to emergency services when they’re injured or in a dangerous situation where they cannot speak freely, but will also be beneficial to those who have an impediment to speech.
Users will be able to tap a button for “Medical”, “Fire” or “Police” to signify which type of emergency they are experiencing during an emergency call, which will provide this information to an operator via an on-device automated voice service. Then, the service will provide the user’s exact location to the operator, along with their plus code, which is like a street address but will help emergency services locate you without an issue.
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The fact that it’s on-device means that the information won’t be stored on Google’s servers, so the nature of your call to emergency services will be between you and the operators on the line, which is crucial for people worried about privacy when using the service.
For now, this feature is rolling out across the United States over the next few months and will first be coming to Google’s own Pixel range of phones. The tech giant has said that the service will roll out to a select number of other Android phones in the future, although no further details have been given on exactly which models will be supported.
It’s a valuable service, and good to see Google’s ability to synthesise speech being used for more than just making dinner reservations. It’s easy to see a situation where this is actually incredibly useful, and while it’s grim to discuss, in situations where someone is in a potentially violent situation or fearing for their safety, this allows them a way to reach out for help without giving anything away to the person they’re with. Innovations are supposed to make life better for the regular person, and it seems that in this case this could do exactly that.