When Apple held its annual iPhone 13 launch event in 2021, it started with a cheery video featuring jazz dancers celebrating California’s natural beauty (which can be captured with an iPhone camera, sure).
The tone of Apple’s iPhone 14 launch this week was darker. After zooming into Apple headquarters from space, it kicked off with a video highlighting users who wrote letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook saying they nearly died – but were saved by their Apple Watch calling 911.
“Dear Apple: My dad was flying our little plane to Vermont. I was sleeping in the back seat. I woke up when we crashed into the treetops. The plane broke into six pieces and we were at miles from civilization in the freezing cold. Then all of a sudden my Apple Watch started ringing,” a character named Hannah said.
Other characters in the short video told stories of falling into a frozen stream, becoming trapped inside a trash compactor, and witnessing a heart attack in a restaurant.
Saving lives in emergency situations was the main theme of Apple’s launch this year, and many of the most notable new features announced by the company focused on security.
The biggest new iPhone feature this year is called “Satellite Emergency SOS,” which can send a message for help even if there’s no cell service for miles around. Users can also share their location with family or friends in the Find My app.
Apple’s example of how the feature works showed a hiker with a broken leg on top of a mountain ridge calling for a helicopter. Apple later mentioned winding back roads as another place where iPhone users might be out of reach.
But this feature could be useful in outdoor wild environments. Wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters can cut out cell service, and having the ability to contact emergency services or tell your family where you are can literally save your life in these circumstances.
Another example: Apple’s $799 or more watch, the Ultra, has an 86-decibel siren that can be heard from 600 meters away and compass functions that allow the user to retrace their steps without Internet.
As with the satellite feature, Apple advertised it as for backcountry adventurers, but it could also be useful in more mundane settings. Imagine sounding the alarm to deter an attacker or using the Trace feature to find your way back to your car after a local disaster has interrupted cell service.
Apple also announced this week that iPhones and Apple Watches can now call 911 if they detect a car crash using motion sensors.
“We really hope you never need it, but just feel a little safer every time you get in the car,” an Apple presenter said, moments before launching another ad in which a driver is hit by an airbag while idling after crashing. .
Apple launch events are designed to do one thing: create demand for new Apple products. Apple wants to make the iPhone even more “essential” to its users with security features, giving users reason not to switch to competing Android devices.
Will these features significantly increase iPhone adoption and sales? It turns out that Apple has at least considered this possibility in the past.
In a disclosure with ESG CDP released in January 2019, Apple representatives wrote about potential business opportunities stemming from climate change, citing a previous version of the “SOS” feature as an example of Apple’s work to create features for emergency situations.
“As severe weather events become more frequent, consumers may come to appreciate more the immediate and ubiquitous availability of reliable mobile computing devices for use in situations where transportation, power, and other services may be temporarily discontinued,” Apple representatives wrote.
Apple cited the events of 9/11 and hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey as “extreme weather events” occurring more frequently.
“Over time, as people begin to experience severe weather events with greater frequency, we expect an increasing need for confidence and preparedness in the area of personal safety and the well-being of loved ones. “, wrote Apple in the disclosure.
Apple isn’t the only consumer electronics company developing security features for its devices. But Apple’s devices also have a robust range of health features, such as fall detection for the elderly and heart monitoring, which boost overall safety.
“The iPhone is there when you need it most,” said a presenter at the launch event. “That trust is especially important at times when your safety is at risk.”
We may be seeing the start of a new messaging strategy at Apple: its devices are the ones you want when things go wrong.
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