Explained: How Apple and Google’s Car Crash Detection features are different from each other

Apple launched its latest iPhone 14 series along with the Apple Watch Series 8 Watch Ultra, Watch SE 2 and AirPods Pro 2 at an event last night. The Cupertino-based tech giant has added a new feature to its latest smartphones and smartwatches which can detect and report emergency services when users are involved in a car accident.
However, the Car Crash Detection feature has been available on Google’s Pixel series since 2019. This feature is available in the “Safety” app of every Pixel phone since the Pixel 3. Moreover, like Apple’s own technology, Pixel smartphones also use the sensors available on the smartphone that will detect when users get involved in a car crash.
Pixel Car Crash Detection: Does it work?
This feature is available in the Settings menu of the Safety app in Pixel phones where you can also find other safety features like — emergency location sharing, etc. To enable this feature users will have to allow a few permissions.
Car crash detection needs location, physical activity and microphone permissions to work. Google has explained that Pixel’s Car Crash Detection feature uses location data, motion sensors and the microphones on the device to recognise the conditions of a car crash.

Moreover, the Pixel smartphones vibrate and sound an alarm to check if the user needs any help before it automatically informs emergency services of the crash and the location. The nearby location and car crash data might also be transmitted to emergency services by Android’s Emergency Location Service.
In 2021, a Pixel owner encountered an accident with his farm equipment on his private land when his vehicle crashed and trapped him, leaving him unconscious with the phone out of his reach, reports 9to5Google. The Pixel device saved that man’s life by contacting emergency services.
Later that year, Google highlighted another example of a Pixel Car Crash Detection success story and promoted it as a “True Pixel Story.”
How is the Apple Car Crash detection different?
Apple’s Car Crash detection feature is quite similar to Google’s as it also uses motion sensors to detect a crash. The Cupertino giant has developed an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm that allows a new and more powerful gyroscope and accelerometer on Apple Watch to enable Crash Detection.
The new Apple Watch series claims to ship with the highest dynamic range accelerometer compared to any other smartwatch. Apple has collected data from these new motion sensors at professional crash test labs to develop the algorithm.

The company used common passenger cars in simulated real-world accidents, including — head-on, rear-end, side-impact and rollovers. Along with the motion data, Crash Detection uses the barometer, GPS and the microphone on the iPhone as inputs to detect the unique patterns — like the airbag going off — that can indicate when a severe crash has taken place.
On the contrary, Google has noted on its support page that the feature can be triggered accidentally by “high impact activities.” Furthermore, the Pixel phone might not be able to call emergency services in cases when — the device is connected to “a weak mobile network” or during an ongoing call.
Whenever an Apple Watch detects a severe car crash, the device will check in with the user and dial emergency services if they are unresponsive after a 10-second countdown. The user’s device location is shared not only with the emergency responders but also with the user’s emergency contacts.
In case of a severe car crash, the emergency services call interface will appear on Apple Watch (as it is expected to be closer to the user) while the call will be placed via iPhone which also needs to be in range for the best possible connection.

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