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Tiny iPhone and Apple Watch Medical ID change could save your life

Apple is launching a new health feature that would ensure iPhone or Apple Watch owners’ Medical ID data reaches the emergency services at the point of contact.

The new feature coming to iOS 13.5 and watchOS 6.2 would enable users to automatically share their data – which could include medical conditions, blood type, allergies or medications – when dialling 911 in certain parts of the United States.

The Medical ID feature already exists within iOS and watchOS for this purpose. It can be accessed from the lock screen without a passcode by opening the emergency call menu. On the Apple Watch, it’s a case of pressing and holding the side button.

The idea behind the feature is to ensure paramedics or other medical professionals can get access to potentially life saving information if the person they’re attending to is unresponsive or struggling to communicate.

Related: Apple Watch Series 5 review

When the update launches there’ll be less involved in imparting the information to the first responders, with Apple saying the data will be transferred securely. Apple also says it’ll work with the fall detection tech that’s available on recent Apple Watch.

Users will still need to be in an area where the Enhanced Emergency Data services are available in order for the information to be transmitted to the recipient of the call (via 9to5Mac).

The updates are due later this month and come at a timely moment with 911 call volume increased dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple, along with Google, is doing its bit to help limit the continued spread of the virus thanks to the Exposure Notification API that will alert smartphone users if they have come into contact with a person who has registered as testing positive for Covid-19.

Despite the enhanced functionality and promises of greater privacy protections for the public, the United Kingdom has opted against the platform in favour of one developed by the health service.

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