iOS 11 will bring many excellent new features when it finally arrives, most likely to accompany the new iPhone 8 in September. Among these is a clever shortcut that allows users to make a call to the emergency services just by pressing a single button. It’s called SOS mode, and we show you how you can use it on your iPhone today.
Installing the iOS 11 beta
As SOS mode is an iOS 11 feature, you’ll need to be running the latest version of Apple’s software to access it. This is easier than you might think, as users can install the iOS 11 beta on their iPhone or iPad for free, directly from Apple.
There’s nothing dodgy, it’s all above board, and no-one from the iOS police will come knocking at your door.
The Apple Beta Software Program gives users the chance to experience the latest releases ahead of the crowd, while also providing Apple with valuable feedback on how the system performs.
If you want to be one of the first to see what iOS 11 has to offer – including the redesigned Control Centre, revamped Messages app, newly designed App Store, and of course SOS mode – then it’s the easiest and safest way to do so.
With any beta software (this means a version that is still being tested for problems, as opposed to the full commercial release) you might encounter the odd problem. So, before downloading the software be sure to back up your device, preferably to iTunes.
Apple’s public beta program is pretty solid, and we haven’t experienced any issues with our test iPhone, but you can never be too careful.
Once you’ve created your backup, follow our How to get iOS 11 beta guide and you’ll be good to go.
Setting up SOS mode
With iOS 11 now on your device, go to Settings and scroll down until you see the new Emergency SOS section. Tap on this and you’ll be presented with an animation that shows how the feature can be used by rapidly pressing the power button five times.
To enable SOS mode, slide the Auto Call button to the right so it turns green.
Scroll down a little more and you’ll see the option to ‘Set up Emergency Contacts in Health’. You don’t need to do this for SOS to work, but if you do, create contacts then they will automatically be sent messages if you use the Emergency SOS feature.
The final option at the bottom of the page is for a Countdown Sound. As the name suggests, this will warn you audibly that the SOS mode has been activated and is about to contact the emergency services. The countdown sound is there so you can know the feature is working if you’re not able to see the screen, or to cancel the call if triggered by accident.
Using SOS mode
Obviously, it’s a good idea to test out the SOS mode before your life depends on it. You can do this without actually calling the emergency services; you just have to be quick.
If you have the Countdown Sound enabled, then you might get a bit of a shock, not to mention a fair few stares in public places, as the klaxon sound it produces is quite loud. So it might be best to disable it while you test the system.
Now all you need to do is press the power button five times in quick succession, even if the phone is locked. A countdown will appear on the screen, starting at three. Press the Stop button underneath, then confirm this by pressing the Stop Calling option that immediately appears.
Note that as well as letting you easily contact the emergency services, SOS mode also disables the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on your iPhone. This is handy if you’re being mugged or arrested and don’t want to be compelled to unlock your device.
If you tap the Home button five times to bring up the emergency services option and then press cancel – or indeed if you go ahead and call the emergency services from that screen – then iOS will automatically lock Touch ID so that it cannot be used to open the phone. You (or the cop confiscating your device) will need to enter a passcode to unlock it, after which Touch ID will work normally.
There you are. Now if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, and we sincerely hope that isn’t the case, then you have a quick way to call for help.