Why it matters: Imagine calling 911 on your Android phone and being unable to get through to the emergency services, all because Microsoft Teams is installed. Google has confirmed that such a scenario can happen under certain conditions.
The concerning bug was discovered by a Pixel 3 user running Android 11 who goes by /u/KitchenPictures5849 on Reddit. They wrote that their phone "got stuck" immediately after just one ring when they rang 911 for their grandmother who appeared to be having a stoke. It left them unable to do anything other than click through apps with an emergency phone call running in the background.
"This is all while the phone informed me that it had sent my location to emergency services," they wrote. "Sadly I couldn't tell the person on the other end what apartment I was in, or what the actual emergency was as I was unable to speak to a human."
Such a serious problem gained the attention of Google, who conducted an investigation into why the phone failed. It turns out that the fault lies with the Microsoft Teams app being installed on the device. However, the important caveat is that the issue is only present when a user isn't logged into Teams. Those who are signed in won't be affected.
"We believe the issue is only present on a small number of devices with the Microsoft Teams app installed when the user is not logged in, and we are currently only aware of one user report related to the occurrence of this bug. We determined that the issue was being caused by unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system," a Google spokesperson wrote in the Reddit thread.
Google and Microsoft have heavily prioritized pushing out a Teams update that will fix the problem. Google also added that there will be a "platform update to the Android ecosystem on January 4." In the meantime, people using Android 10 (or newer) on any device with Teams installed without being signed in are advised to uninstall then reinstall the app. This acts as an interim fix until the patches arrive.
It's important to note that this is a problem with Teams and affects any device running Android 10 or above, not just the Pixel phones. The latest handset from Google, the Pixel 6 series, did have issues with slow in-screen fingerprint scanners, but the company pushed out an update last month that addressed the issue.