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All phones sold in India will feature a “panic button” from next year
Starting next year, phone makers will be legally required to include a “panic button” feature on every device they sell in India.
Violence against women is a serious problem in India, a country where four rapes occur every hour, according to Bloomberg. In an effort to improve women’s safety, the Indian government now mandates phone makers to include a way for users to quickly call emergency services.
This goes for both feature phones and smartphones. With the former, pressing and holding a dedicated key or the “5” or “9” number keys will call emergency services. Smartphones will need to integrate the feature in their software interface.
The requirement will go in effect from January 1, 2017.
In addition, from 2018, all phones sold in India will need to feature a GPS-based mean of localization. This could prove more difficult to implement in feature phones, but smartphones already account for 90% of sales in India, home of the $4 smartphone and a key battleground for the world’s biggest smartphone makers.
Presumably, GPS localization will allow police to reach potential victims of violence much quicker.
A number of Android apps already offer similar functionality. For example, Safe IT, an app developed by India-based outfit TwoMen, features a panic button mode, missed call replies, GPS tracking and location sharing, and smart SMS replies.