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Google leaks Personal Safety app with car crash detection ahead of Pixel 4 launch

Car damage
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Google is working on a car crash detection feature to add to its software arsenal – and it could be introduced next week as part of the expected Pixel 4 smartphone event.

Mishaal Rahman, editor-in-chief of the XDA-Developers Portal, discovered the new trick buried in an incremental update to Android's existing Emergency Information app.

According to Rahman, the latest version of the program sees Emergency Information rebranded as 'Personal Safety' and includes a new Play Store blurb that highlights the addition of accident detection.

The listing states: "If you phone detects that you’ve been in a car crash, it can help reach 911 for you. Car crash detection is available in the United States."

Rahman says he found it when updating his Pixel 2 XL, but that he expects it will be launched to the public with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. After that, we would speculate that a rollout to older Pixel devices is likely, judging by the fact that it appeared for his 2017 handset.

How will car crash detection work in Google's Personal Safety app?

With the National Safety Council estimating that there were at least 40,000 vehicle deaths last year in the US, anything that can help save lives on the road should be welcomed. 

Google's car crash detection feature is hoping to do just that, by utilizing the built-in sensors and microphone found on Pixel devices (and most newer smartphones) to flag accidents.

Similar to how the best fall detection sensors and devices like the Apple Watch Series 5 identify when a person might be in trouble, the cell's accelerometer will register sudden changes in movement and the mic will listen for "ambient audio" signs of a crash – the sound of glass breaking, for example.

If it decides an on-road incident is likely to have occured, it will then sound a loud alarm. The driver can respond with "I'm OK" if they're fine, but if the user doesn't respond to the prompt twice, the device will call 911 and provide its location to the emergency services.

You can also let Google know if you weren't in a crash or that the accident was minor, after you've signalled that you're OK. 

Assuming the Personal Safety app is indeed ready, it's likely that we'll learn more about it on October 15 at the Pixel 4 launch, when Google is also expected to introduce a new feature allowing Android 10 to support hearing aids.

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.