Thoughts On Smartphone Emergency Access

Joni Trythall takes a close look at the emergency use cases on smart phones:

The current state of making emergency calls on smartphones is unacceptably faulty and incohesive. In a moment when we need good design the most it can likely fail many of us as it is, so let’s take a quick look at some specific reasons I feel this needs more attention.

After reading the first few paragraphs of this post, I paused and reached for my iPhone, which is now running iOS 10. I knew on previous versions of the OS, I had come across the option to quickly access emergency features: the dialpad and a way to view my personal medical details. For the life of me, though, I couldn’t remember how or where. In fact, I still can’t remember. And—more alarming—I had no idea where they were in the current OS.

I think the problem with my setup lies in the fact that iOS 10 puts the emergency button (link?) on the keypad lock screen, something I rarely see on my iPhone. I have Touch ID enabled, and—unless I just recently rebooted the phone, or my fingers are damp or dirty and my prints don’t register properly—I’m hardly ever presented with this interface.

Anyway, I think Joni makes a lot of good points here, and I hope that maybe this could spur further discussions on how developers could better present these features to users.

Also, I really enjoy a good critique of common interface patterns, especially when those interfaces could have life-or-death consequences.