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I C E — An open letter to Apple and Google January 31, 2014

Posted by samwyse in Editorials.
Tags: , , ,

Searching the Apple App Store for “in case of emergency” turns up 65 apps (as of today) that perform provide emergency information about the phones owner on the lock screen. I suspect that searching the Google Play store would turn up at least as many. The problem with these apps is that they place personal information where anyone who picks up your phone can easily see it, and they make your lock screen unattractive. I would like to call on the Apple and Google developers to add this functionality to the stock OS. Yes, this would render a lot of those apps obsolete, but Apple has already shown a willingness to do this by adding a flashlight control iOS 7.

I envision this as adding a section to the settings control that allows you to enter medical information about yourself as well as a list of emergency contacts. On the lock screen would be a button to bring up the information, similar to the way the camera app can be activated without unlocking the phone. (See the mock-ups below.) Besides displaying the information entered by the user, each emergency phone number could be dialed by a single button press.

To provide at least a bit of privacy, the lock screen would show a very obvious count of how many times the information has been accessed. The counter would be reset to zero, thus dismissing the warning, only by going back to the settings app and entering a password.

While this would be a great feature to add to the next version of iOS or Android, a truly humanitarian gesture would be to create one last revision of each major OS version and add it to those as well, providing the feature to people with old phones.




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