Car Crash Detection is also on Google Pixel phones


Apple today unveiled the iPhone 14 lineup, Apple Watch Series 8, Watch Ultra, and Watch SE 2. All of these new products bring with them a long-standing feature from Google’s Pixel lineup, Car Crash Detection, in a case of tech companies copying each other to the benefit of everyone.

Google Pixel introduced Car Crash Detection in 2019

Car Crash Detection has been available since 2019 on Pixel smartphones, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing about it before now.

Google has historically done little to advertise the feature. It’s reveal was buried in a single sentence in the Pixel 4’s launch, and became an afterthought with all of the company’s future releases. By comparison, Apple touted this functionality over the course of several minutes while launching its latest iPhones and smartwatches.

Still, Car Crash Detection is available within the “Safety” app on every Pixel since the Pixel 3.

How does it work? Like Apple’s implementation, Car Crash Detection on Pixel uses the phone’s onboard sensors to recognize when you get into a crash.

Google says that the feature uses location data, motion sensors, and the microphones on your device to detect the conditions of a car crash. After a crash occurs, your Pixel phone will vibrate and sound an alarm to see if you need help before contacting 911 on its own to inform emergency services of a crash and your location. It’s remarkably similar to what Apple has just announced for its own smartphones and smartwatches.

On a support page, Google explains:

Your Pixel 3, 4, and later can use information like your phone’s location, motion sensors, and nearby sounds to detect a possible severe car crash. Car crash detection requires location, physical activity, and microphone permissions to work. If your phone determines you got in a severe car crash and calls emergency services, your approximate location and car crash data may be transmitted to emergency services by Android’s Emergency Location Service.

Does Car Crash Detection on Pixel actually work?

The big question, of course, is whether or not this feature actually works. It’s something that no one hopes to ever put to the test, but the good news is that there are documented cases of this feature actually saving lives.

In early 2021, one Pixel owner shared his story of an accident on his own private land – not even in a car, but rather farm equipment – where the vehicle crashed and flipped over, leaving him unconscious, trapped, and with his phone out of reach. When he woke up, his Pixel had already contacted emergency services who found him not long after, potentially saving the man’s life.

Later that same year, Google highlighted another example of a Pixel owner who had been in a car accident in an unfamiliar area, where Car Crash Detection on the user’s Pixel smartphone prompted a call to emergency services quickly.

And really, we don’t…

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