Apple event this year had an unusually dark undertone as it leaned into emergency features for a dangerous world

Apple event this year had an unusually dark undertone as it leaned into emergency features for a dangerous world

When Apple held its annual iPhone 13 launch event in 2021, it kicked off with a joyful video featuring jazz dancers celebrating California’s natural beauty (which, of course, can be captured on an iPhone camera).

The background to Apple’s iPhone 14 launch this week was darker. After zooming in on Apple headquarters from space, he began with a video highlighting users who wrote letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook saying they almost died, but their Apple Watch saved them by calling 911.

“Dear Apple, My dad was flying our little plane to Vermont. I was asleep in the back seat. I woke up as we crashed into the treetops. The plane broke into six pieces and we were miles from civilization.” in the freezing cold. Then all of a sudden my Apple Watch started ringing,” said a character named Hannah.

Other characters in the short video told stories of falling into a frozen creek, getting trapped inside a trash compactor, and witnessing a heart attack at a restaurant.

Saving lives in emergencies was the main theme of Apple’s launch this year, and many of the most notable new features the company announced were geared towards security.

This year’s biggest new iPhone capability is called “Satellite Emergency SOS,” which can send a message for help even if there’s no cellular service for miles. Users can also share their location with family or friends on the Find My app.

Apple’s example of how the feature works showed a hiker with a broken leg on top of a mountain calling for a helicopter. Later, Apple mentioned winding back roads as another place where iPhone users could be out of reach.

But this feature could be useful in wild outdoor environments. Wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters can knock out cell service, and having the ability to contact emergency services or tell your family where you are can literally be a lifesaver in those circumstances.

Another example: Apple’s $799-plus watch, the Ultra, has an 86-decibel siren that can be heard 600 feet away and compass features that allow the wearer to retrace their steps without the Internet.

As with the satellite feature, Apple advertised it as a useful tool for backcountry adventurers, but it could also come in handy in more mundane settings. Imagine sounding the alarm to deter an attacker, or using the tracking feature to find your way back to your car after a disaster in your community has knocked out cellular service.

Apple also announced this week that iPhones and Apple Watches, which use motion sensors, can now call 911 if they detect a car accident.

“We really hope you never need it, but feel a little more secure every time you get in the car,” an Apple presenter said, moments before showing slow-motion footage of a driver hit by an airbag after crash. .

Apple launch events are designed to do one thing: increase demand for new Apple products. The company now wants to make the iPhone even more “essential” for its users through security features, giving users reasons not to switch to competing Android devices.

Will these features significantly increase iPhone adoption and sales? It turns out that Apple has at least considered the possibility in the past.

In a disclosure with the ESG CDP ​​group published in January 2019, Apple representatives wrote about potential business opportunities stemming from climate change, citing an earlier version of the “SOS” feature as an example of Apple’s work to create features to emergency situations.

“As severe weather events become more frequent, consumers may come to value more the immediate and ubiquitous availability of reliable mobile computing devices for use in situations where transportation, power and other services may be temporarily interrupted” Apple representatives wrote.

Apple cited the 9/11 disaster and “extreme weather events” like Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey occurring more frequently.

“Over time, as people begin to experience severe weather events more frequently, we expect a greater need for confidence and preparedness in the realm of personal safety and the well-being of loved ones,” Apple wrote in the disclosure.

Apple isn’t the only consumer electronics company developing security features for its devices. But Apple’s devices also have a strong lineup of health features, like fall detection for seniors and heart monitoring, that underscore its overall safety argument.

“The iPhone is there when you need it most,” said a presenter at the launch event. “That trust is especially important at times when your safety is at risk.”

We may be seeing the beginning of a new messaging strategy at Apple: your devices are the ones you want when things go wrong.

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