Android users, Google is working on ‘earthquake feature’ for your phone

Ruben Fields
August 12, 2020

Google says that over the next 12 months, more states in the U.S. as well as more countries around the world will see the rollout of the Android Earthquake Alerts System.

Google will rely on readings obtained from a phone's accelerometer, and if it detects any abnormal seismic activity, a signal is sent to the quake detection server alongside rough location information.

The warnings are powered by California's ShakeAlert system, which uses signals from more than 700 seismometers installed around the state that can sense seismic waves. Google is trying to provide some life-saving support here with the Android Earthquake Alerts System, an earthquake detection system that relies on signals received from a network of Android phones to speed up the process of sending alerts. In April, Google started allowing some non-Pixel handsets to install the app. Not every region has a network of seismometers set up as California does, so that's where Google's network of Android phones come in. By using the accelerometer built into every handset, your phone will now be able to send a signal to an natural disaster detection server if it detects something "it thinks might be an quake".

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"This announcement means that California's world-class natural disaster early warning system will be a standard function on every Android phone - giving millions precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on when the big one hits", Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

IPhone users won't receive the alerts through Apple's operating system, but they can download the MyShake app.

Also, from today, any Android phone can be part of the Android Earthquake Alerts System. Google also hopes to soon use the technology to share more accurate natural disaster data in Google Search when users look up "earthquake" or "earthquake near me". Any potential warning could be crucial in saving the lives of people and Google is rolling out a feature on Android phones which could exactly do that. "When you look up "earthquake" or "earthquake near me", you'll find relevant results for your area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an natural disaster", states Stogaitis in the blog post.

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