Apple Watches and iPhones are Placing Dozens of False Distress Calls About Skiers

Dispatchers for 911 emergency calls “are being inundated with false, automated distress calls from Apple devices owned by skiers who are very much alive,” reports the New York Times:

“Do you have an emergency?” [911 emergency dispatcher] Betts asked. No, the man said, he was skiing — safely, happily, unharmed. Slightly annoyed, he added, “For the last three days, my watch has been dialing 911.”

Winter has brought a decent amount of snowfall to [Colorado]’s ski resorts, and with it an avalanche of false emergency calls. Virtually all of them have been placed by Apple Watches or iPhone 14s under the mistaken impression that their owners have been debilitated in collisions. As of September, these devices have come equipped with technology meant to detect car crashes and alert 911 dispatchers. It is a more sensitive upgrade to software on Apple devices, now several years old, that can detect when a user falls and then dial for help. But the latest innovation appears to send the device into overdrive: It keeps mistaking skiers, and some other fitness enthusiasts, for car-wreck victims.

Lately, emergency call centers in some ski regions have been inundated with inadvertent, automated calls, dozens or more a week. Phone operators often must put other calls, including real emergencies, on hold to clarify whether the latest siren has been prompted by a human at risk or an overzealous device. “My whole day is managing crash notifications,” said Trina Dummer, interim director of Summit County’s emergency services, which received 185 such calls in the week from Jan. 13 to Jan. 22. (In winters past, the typical call volume on a busy day was roughly half that.) Ms. Dummer said that the onslaught was threatening to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from true emergencies.

“Apple needs to put in their own call center if this is a feature they want,” she said.

Apple acknowledged this was occuring in “some specific scenarios,” the Times reports — but a spokesperson also “noted that when a crash is detected, the watch buzzes and sends a loud warning alerting the user that a call is being placed to 911, and it provides 10 seconds in which to cancel the call.”

But the Times points out that “skiers, in helmets and layers of clothing, often do not to detect the warning, so they may not cancel the call or respond to the 911 dispatcher.”

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Apple Exec Says Samsung Copied iPhone and Simply ‘Put a Bigger Screen Around It’

In a new documentary about the evolution of the iPhone, Apple’s marketing chief Greg Joswiak was seen calling Samsung “annoying” and accusing them of poorly copying Apple’s technology. “They were annoying,” said Joswiak. “And they were annoying because, as you know, they ripped off our technology. They took the innovations that we had created and created a poor copy of it, and just put a bigger screen around it. So, yeah, we were none too pleased.” MacRumors reports: Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 with a 5-inch display in early 2013, at a time when the iPhone 5 had a 4-inch display. Apple did eventually release its first larger smartphones with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in 2014, and the devices were met with strong demand and went on to be among the best-selling iPhone models ever.

Apple sued Samsung in 2011 for patent infringement, alleging that Samsung copied the iPhone’s design with its own Galaxy line of smartphones. Apple was initially awarded around $1 billion in damages, but the amount was lowered in a subsequent retrial. In 2018, Apple finally settled with Samsung and reiterated the following statement: “We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers. This case has always been about more than money. Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design. It is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple. We’re grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.” The full documentary can be watched on The Wall Street Journal’s website.

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Apple Extends Its Grace Period for Deleting Old (and Unpopular) Apps from Its App Store

“As a response to recent coverage of software being purged from the App Store, Apple is sharing its criteria for how it chooses to remove abandoned apps,” reports 9to5Mac.

Apple’s announcement say it’s only flagging apps for possible removal “that

Developers will also have more time to comply after being notified.” (90 days instead of 30 days). And 9to5Mac adds that Apple “is also reiterating that the practice is not new but instead part of an initiative that started six years ago.

But the Verge took a different message from “Apple to developers: if we deleted your old app, it deserved it.”

[T]he company has responded — by issuing a press release effectively saying that nobody was downloading the apps anyways….

Apple’s explanation does clear up why it, as some developers noted, seemed to apply the rules inconsistently. For example, one developer noted that Pocket God, a popular game from the iPhone’s early days, hasn’t been updated for seven years but is still on the App Store. Apple is basically saying it’s still up because it’s still popular.
From one angle, this reasoning doesn’t necessarily gel with the first half of Apple’s post, where it says it removes old apps to ensure “user trust in quality apps,” and to improve discoverability, security and privacy, and user experience. After all — if an app is problematic because it’s outdated, more downloads would make a bad app a bigger issue. Who’s being harmed if there’s an outdated app almost no one is downloading?

But Apple says it doesn’t want the App Store cluttered up with apps that both developers and users have forgotten about. It has enough problems making it easy for users to find good apps as it is, and it’s easy to imagine Apple seeing deleting old, seemingly irrelevant apps as a good solution.

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Volvo Ditches PCs and Paper In Favor of iPhone and Apple Watch

Volvo has unleashed a big improvement in customer satisfaction after equipping its 1,500 service engineers with an Apple Watch to use during their day. What, on the face of it, seems a small change reflects extensive cultural change across the company, which is actively engaged in digital transformation across its business. Computerworld’s Jonny Evans reports: Volvo has equipped its engineers (Personal Service Technicians) with an Apple Watch and iPhone (running the Volvo Service app) to help them work more efficiently than before. The company’s primary focus is to improve customer service, as it recognizes that technicians are the main point of customer contact across the life of the Volvo they drive. So, how can an Apple Watch in a garage improve customer service?

– In use, the engineer will receive a Notification when a customer arrives at the garage with their car.
– The watch will show the customer’s name, relevant notes, and car details.
– During the repair, engineers can access information — and once the repair is complete, they can directly call the customer to tell them.
– They can also schedule and make a subsequent follow-up call.

The benefit is that with all this information being made available through the Watch (and accompanying iPhone app), engineers don’t need to use printed records, or access a PC to stay up to date. That’s not only time-consuming, but learning how to use these systems takes up time. The company told me it took up to 6 months to train new recruits on the 15 different IT systems Volvo used before. Now, thanks to smart analysis and smart integration of legacy systems, what technicians need to know is always with them. The result is that paperwork doesn’t disappear, technicians/engineers can stay focused, essential customer contact records aren’t lost and engineers always have clarity and purpose. It all sounds so simple. It should sound simple. But it isn’t simple. […]

The project is already generating positive results. The company told me that 80% of technicians who use the app have increased their total customer satisfaction scores. Volvo also cites a 30% increase in post-service follow up calls and emails to customers, thanks to the tech pushing complex processes out of the way. Digitalization Director Markus Lundstrom said: “With the Volvo Service app we’re connecting people through technology. At one workshop, customers report a 37% improvement in the ability to access their Personal Service Technician.” The company also reported a 40% decrease in paper printouts. Volvo is also seeing the technicians use their new kit to get other tasks done. “Some of our teams use the Walkie-Talkie feature to communicate with each other across the facility,” they said.

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