Apple Adds 911 Location Feature in Latest iPhone Update

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

It will soon be easier for emergency responders in some countries to locate people who call for help using an iPhone.

Apple Inc. said Wednesday that a coming update to its iPhone software would support a feature called Advanced Mobile Location, or AML. That technology, which is active in nine countries, sends precise smartphone location data directly to emergency call takers.

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The technology isn't yet available in the U.S., and may not be for some time. That is because U.S. wireless carriers are focused on other options for getting the accurate smartphone data to emergency call takers.

Historically, emergency responders rely on location information provided by wireless carriers, using GPS and cellphone towers. But those estimates are less accurate than estimates produced by Apple and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which tap into data on devices as well as Wi-Fi hot spots. The smartphone giants have improved location tracking for commercial purposes like mapping apps and targeted advertising.

Carrier location estimates are often hundreds of meters wide, while smartphone estimates are about a dozen meters wide, especially in dense areas.

AML technology was developed by British telecom BT Group PLC and Google. It launched in mid-2016 on Android smartphones. The nine countries currently active are the U.K., Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, Iceland, Belgium, Ireland, Finland and New Zealand.

Write to Ryan Knutson at ryan.knutson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 24, 2018 17:03 ET (22:03 GMT)

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