Smartphone manufacturers need to qualify to have Google Mobile Services (GMS) on their devices through a set of standard requirements. Having these much-used apps like Chrome, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, etc are highly important and may even be a factor in getting people to buy their devices. There are still a lot of issues when it comes to competition and antitrust that Google is facing from regulatory bodies but this is the current reality for Android OEMs. This newest development for Android 12 though, requiring and focusing on safety & emergency apps, should be pretty useful and crucial for end-users.
Android Police reports that tipster Mishal Rahman spotted the new GMS requirements which states that Android 12 devices need to have a “top-level Safety & emergency” page. This includes items like medical information, emergency contacts, emergency SOS, emergency location service, earthquake alerts, and wireless emergency alerts. Most of these features are already available on Android devices for the past years but they’re now “mandatory” for phones and tablets.
Emergency SOS is probably the new thing that may not be familiar if you’re not yet on Android 12. Pixel devices running on the latest update are able to see experience this on the Personal Safety app. Basically it lets you contact emergency services by tapping the power button five times. This will be useful for those who may be in emergency situations but are unable to dial 911 or talk to someone to alert them of whatever they are experiencing.
Most of the features like earthquake alerts, wireless emergency alerts, and location services are already built into the settings through Play Services. Some services though may not be available in certain regions so some users may not be seeing these on their devices. Another GMS requirement is screen readers for the visually impaired, specifically TalkBack. This is actually included / pre-installed in the Accessibility Suite app.
Requiring OEMs to have these safety & emergency apps on their devices is a good move for Google. While there are still those antitrust issues they have to face particularly in Europe, this at least will be very useful for users in terms of personal safety.