New Caution For iPhone & Apple Watch Users at Theme Parks

by SharonKurheg

Ever since Apple released the first generation of iPhones in June, 2007, they’ve endeavored to make them better and better. They had to; besides needing a reason for early adopters to buy the “latest and greatest,” they also had to compete with Android phones, which began beta testing in November, 2007 and were initially released in September, 2008.

In September of this year, the iPhone 14 was released. Besides introducing a new, larger 6.7-inch size to join the popular 6.1-inch design, the phone also offers features a new dual-camera system, and the best battery life on iPhone.

Along with that, the iPhone14 offers Crash Detection, and a smartphone industry-first safety service with Emergency SOS via satellite. So if your iPhone thinks you’ve been in an accident and you don’t tell it you’re OK, it can automatically call 911 on your behalf.

As described by cnet, the iPhone 14:

…uses an axis gyroscope and high G-force accelerometer to detect four main types of crashes: front, side, rear-end and rollover crashes. If the sensors detect an impact, the feature will automatically connect the person wearing it to emergency services. If the wearer doesn’t dismiss the call within 20 seconds, an audio message informs emergency services of the crash and provides its location.

Apple Watches have had a similar feature, fall detection that’s paired with auto emergency SOS calling, for several years. I wear an Apple Watch and in fact, inadvertently set off its fall detection not long ago. I was trying to distract our dog from whatever mischief she was doing, and banged my left hand on the table hard enough for it to make a loud noise. I wear my watch on my left wrist, and the watch started making noise and the face said “It looks like you’ve taken a hard fall” and I had the option of hitting one of two buttons; “I’m OK” or “EMERGENCY SOS.” I hit “I’m OK” and all was well.

Apple Watch Series 8, second-generation Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra also have the new crash detection built in.

It turns out that owners of iPhone 14s and higher-end Apple Watches are having similar woes when they go to theme parks, and specifically on roller coasters.

You already know where I’m going with this, don’t you? 😉 But yep, according to the Wall Street Journal, the new Crash Detection feature has misinterpreted several phone owners’ rides on roller coasters as a car crash.

When Apple launched the feature, it said it would only work if you were actually driving and if you experienced a crash. So simply dropping the phone or falling shouldn’t trigger it. But apparently riding a roller coaster, with its fast speeds and sudden drops, is another story.

As the WSJ described one example, an iPhone 14 Pro owner was at Kings Island amusement park, just outside Cincinnati. She zipped her new phone into her fanny pack so it would be secure. She went on their Mystic Timbers roller coaster – that’s the wooden coaster that brings riders 109 feet into the air and plunges down at 53mph.

When she was done with the ride, the rider took her phone out of her bag. As per WSJ, “The lock screen was lined with missed calls and voice mails from an emergency dispatcher asking if she was OK.

“During the ride, the phones new car-crash detection triggered and automatically dialed 911. The call to the Warren County Communications Center, which you can listen to here,  featured an automated voice message from Ms. White’s iPhone: ‘The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone.'”

The phone also picked up the screams of the owner and other people on the coaster.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the “scene,” but, of course, couldn’t find the “accident.”

WSJ said that type of event happened six times in a short period of time, at both Kings Island, and Six Flags Great Adventure, in Jackson NJ.

Since then, Coaster101, a roller coaster enthusiast’s group, has reported on Twitter that several theme parks have placed “warning” signs at the front of their rougher coasters.

So heads up, iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone and 14 Pro Max owners: If you go to an amusement park and are a fan of roller coasters, make sure to turn your phone on airplane mode before riding.

And if you wear an Apple Watch Series 8, second-generation Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra, you could run into the same problem. Here’s how to manage Crash Detection on your Apple Watch.

The last thing you want is for your phone or watch to unnecessarily call 911 on your behalf!

Feature Photo:

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