In brief: Apple is working on an iPhone feature that will dial 911 automatically in the event you are in an auto accident. Sources familiar with the matter provided documents to The Wall Street Journal detailing the feature, tentatively called "crash detection" for iPhones and the Apple Watch. It'll use data from sensors built into the devices such as the accelerometer to detect sudden changes in g forces, like those that occur upon impact.
Apple is no stranger to using sensors in this manner. A couple of years back, the company rolled out a fall detection feature for its smartwatch designed to detect if its wearer has fallen and alert first responders if the wearer doesn't respond to a notification asking if they are alright. Another feature that debuted in iOS 15 assesses how steady a user is when walking.
Documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal suggest Apple has been testing its crash-detection feature over the past year by collecting data shared anonymously from Apple Watch and iPhone users. According to the WSJ, the feature has already detected more than 10 million suspected crashes and called 911 roughly 50,000 times.
Apple wouldn't be the first to market with such a feature. Google rolled out a similar feature with its Pixel smartphone in 2019 and General Motors has offered related functionality through its OnStar service since the mid-90s.
Sources said Apple's rollout timing could change, or that the feature could be scrapped entirely, so don't be surprised if it's slow to materialize or never shows up at all.