This is gonna be a weird tip.

Why? Because I can’t show you many pictures I’ve taken of this feature in action. I mean, I love my readers, but calling 911 to take screenshots is probably not the best use of my city’s resources, right? Right.

Here’s the deal: Under watchOS 3, you can automatically summon emergency services by just holding down the side button.

Watch Side Button for Emergency SOS

The setting for this is within the iPhone’s Watch app, under My Watch > Genera l> Emergency SOS.

Emergency SOS Settings

As you can see, there’s a toggle at the top that’ll turn Auto Call off if you’re worried you’ll invoke it accidentally, but if you want it on, the “Add SOS Contact” button will let you choose up to three people who’ll be notified if you do use Emergency SOS.

So as I mentioned, holding down the side button on your Watch with “Hold to Auto Call” turned on will give you a screen that looks like this:

Apple Watch Emergency SOS

When you see that, you can either slide to make the call, or if you keep on holding the side button, a countdown for calling automatically will begin. And if you don’t cancel the process, your SOS Contacts will get a message with your current location, too.

I can imagine this being very handy and potentially crisis-averting, especially if you’re in ill health or know someone who is. And if you need more info (or heck, if you just want to see some more screenshots of Emergency SOS in action), be sure to check out Apple’s support article on this subject!

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Lee Dronick

Do you know how long you need to “keep holding” the sidebutton?

This is a good way to surreptitiously call 911 should, heaven forbid, you would need to.