Apple iPhone 14 Crash Detection Feature Keeps Triggering False Alarms
Last week, we reported that a Reddit user received a crash alert on their Apple Watch from their new iPhone 14 Pro mistaking their rollercoaster ride at a Six Flags location for a severe car crash.
This specific iPhone user was able to get to the alert in time and dismiss it for the false alarm it was, but it looks like many users aren’t as lucky. If the user doesn’t mark themselves safe, Crash Detection calls out to emergency services and contacts.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern obtained recordings of six emergency calls, which were actually false alarms, made by the iPhone’s Crash Detection feature at Kings Island rides. iPhone 14 users have also reported Crash Detection making 911 calls after they dropped their phones while driving or riding a motorbike.
Last month, Douglas Sonders was riding his motorbike in New York City when he dropped his new iPhone 14 Pro Max along the way. He thought the phone was unrecoverable, so he and his friends rode to an Apple Store to get a new one.
The drop, however, had triggered the Crash Detection feature on his iPhone. It alerted emergency services and also sent out text messages to all of his emergency contacts, all while Sonders was completely alright and just getting himself a new iPhone.
“I was freaking out. I was thinking the worst,” said Gabrielle Kennedy, Sonders’s girlfriend. “My best friend passed away in a car accident,” she added. “It brought me right back there.”
Crash Detection uses an improved 3-axis gyroscope and a new high g-force accelerometer on iPhone 14 models and the latest Apple Watches to look for signs of a car crash. The feature is tuned to detect high g-force changes and even uses a barometric pressure sensor to detect changes in air pressure that are consistent with an airbag going off.
An Apple spokesman said the crash-detection algorithms—which I described at length in my last column—were validated using over a million hours of crash data, real-world driving and crash-test labs. He added that the feature is “extremely accurate in detecting severe crashes” and that the company optimized it for getting users help while minimizing false positives.
Apple certainly has more work to do to really dial in Crash Detection and make it more accurate, especially when false positives could waste emergency services workers’ valuable time or be emotionally jarring to loved ones.
What would you like to see Apple do with Crash Detection to minimize false alarms? Let us know in the comments below.