India has signed a new law that demands all smartphones, including the iPhone, must provide a “panic button” feature from January 1, 2017. The move will allow users to notify the nearest security agency when they are in trouble.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, hopes the mandatory panic button will increase user safety, particularly for women. Any phone that does not include this feature by the date above, should not be sold in India.
“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” Prasad said, according to a report from Indian Express.
To add a panic button and comply with this law, Apple will need to built the feature into iOS. It is recommended that manufacturers add a dedicated physical button for this feature, or repurpose the power button to add a call for help.
It’s unlikely Apple will add any extra buttons to the iPhone, so it will likely go down the second route, for which “the suggested implementation is for smartphone makers to activate the panic mode when the power button is pressed quickly three times,” reports 9to5Mac.
It is stated that the panic button must be accessible without the use of the touchscreen, so that it can be used without having to look at the device. iOS already gives users the ability to dial an emergency number from the lock screen, but that’s a lot less useful than what India wants.
If Apple is going to implement this — and it seems like it has no choice — there’s a good chance it will be available in other countries, too.
The law also states that all phone must have a built-in GPS by January 1, 2018, which would provide agencies with an exact location for an individual in trouble, but that’s something that you already get with the latest iPhones.