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This little-known Google feature might have saved a man’s life - and here’s how to get it

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Adam Smith
·2-min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A hidden feature in Google’s Pixel phones has saved a man’s life after his Bobcat loader rolled into a ravine.

Writing about the incident on Reddit, user u/postnospam says that does not remember how he got into the accident, but that he woke up “in horrible pain struggling to breathe”.

Stuck in an embankment, they “yelled for help knowing it was futile when I heard a voice coming from the one earbud that managed to stay in place”.

In a fortunately prescient event, they had enabled Google’s Car Crash Detection mode on their Pixel 4 XL device. With that enabled, the smartphone is able to use information including its location, motion sensors, and nearby sounds to detect a possible car crash.

When the phone detects the user is in danger, it dials the emergency services - 999 in the UK, 911 in the US, and so on.

While this does require handing over location, physical activity, and microphone permissions, it was worth it in this case, as an emergency dispatcher sent firefighers to the accident and informed the man’s wife of the crash.

The man also adds that the accident occurred deep on his property, and with nobody expecting him to return for a few hours it was unlikely someone would have attended him at all - especially as the fire station is some time from where he was stuck.

The emergency services removed the man from the wreckage, avoiding the seven broken ribs and four thoracic vertebrae that were broken when his back slammed against the ceiling of the Bobcat.

To enable a similar setting on Google’s Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, and Pixel 4a phones, users should open the Safety app, hit Settings, and under ‘Detection and alerts’, tap ‘Car crash detection.’

Google is adding increasingly more features to its smartphones and other Android phones, revealed through announced updates and leaks of its upcoming Android 12 operating system.

Google showed off new updates to six different Android apps, such as a password tool, a text scheduler, and improvements to Maps, Assistant, and Android Auto.

The smartphone giant is also rolling out other updates for Android users as a part of its new operating system, including a new notification panel, privacy features, and widgets.

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