Google’s new Personal Safety app with car crash detection could be a lifesaver in emergencies

Google's new Personal Safety app can detect car crashes and dial 911.
Image: Google Play Store

Google recently made a premature listing in the Play Store that gives away several details about an in-progress app called “Personal Safety.”

It appears that the new software is capable of detecting car crashes and can automatically call 911 in an emergency. Meanwhile, users can also send their location to family, friends, and first responders silently with a single tap.

For now, it looks like Personal Safety might begin as a Pixel 4 exclusive—as many new Google features do. However, it’s difficult to imagine why Google wouldn’t offer the feature to all Android users after a brief test period.

Manage your supply chain from home with Sourcengine

“I’m OK”

XDA Developers originally reported on the new Personal Safety app with screenshots and apparent insider information about Google’s newest project. The feature uses a smartphone’s location data, motion sensor, and microphone to detect when a vehicle collision may have occurred.

When the phone thinks that a user was in a crash, it will immediately begin vibrating and playing an alarm tone at maximum volume. The screen then displays two options for users to choose from. “I’m OK” tells the app to ignore the event. This is necessary in the event of a minor collision or if the phone’s sensors falsely believe that it was in an accident. After letting the app know that they are okay, users can then help Google improve Personal Safety by telling it if a minor crash did occur or if the detection was a mistake.

However, the other option gives users the ability to call 911. Two taps will connect the driver to emergency services and provide the operator with the phone’s current location. If a user doesn’t press either button within a set time period, the app automatically dials 911. This could be a life-saving feature if a driver is incapacitated or can’t reach their phone during an accident.

Image: Google Play Store

Quick Notification

Personal Safety isn’t just about car crashes though. The app also allows users to share their location and current status with their preprogrammed emergency contacts.

Meanwhile, Google has announced a feature that helps users send information to a 911 operator without having to say a word. With a single tap, Google Assistant calls 911, relays the user’s location, and tells the operator what type of assistance they need. This is incredibly useful when someone is either incapable of talking out loud or when doing so would put them in more danger—such as in cases of domestic violence.

It appears that this functionality will also be a part of the Personal Safety app. Although it isn’t clear when the software will launch for Pixel devices, it will probably be sometime this year. Users can expect an official Google announcement before it does roll out.