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This iOS11 feature could save LGBTI’s lives

This iOS11 feature could save LGBTI’s lives

Emergency SOS gives the caller 3 seconds before it calls emergency services

Everyone is always hesitant to install the next iOS but this time you definitely should.

iOS 11 features a new setting that could help save lives. I wish it had been an option before.

Earlier this year, I was heading home from a late night event.

The walk from the Harrow-on-the-hill London tube station to my house at the time was about 20 minutes and I was tired, so naturally opted for the bus.

While sat waiting, I watched in the corner of my eye as a guy nearby sat on the same bench as me watched me constantly.

He would repeatedly glance at me over and over again.

I was already nervous at this point.

Eventually, he asked me where the bus at our stand went to. I answered, thinking ‘that is why he was trying to get my attention.’

The nerves went away.

However, after about 10 minutes a bus still hadn’t turned up so I decided to just walk home instead.

I’d walked for five minutes from the bus station when I saw the guy behind me.

Immediately a red flag went up in my brain because he’d asked about the buses, so why was he now leaving the bus station?

As I walked quicker, so did he.

Frantic messages to friends

Thankfully I knew that a cafe called Bru was open late at night. It was far closer than my house so headed straight there.

He followed me inside the shopping center where the cafe was.

Hoping he’d get the impression I was staying there for a while and would leave, I ordered some food and a drink. He paced outside, watching me.

In hindsight, I wish I’d said something to the person who served me. The thought of letting him know I was doing something though petrified me to my core.

So I sat at a table near the counter.

This was when he realized I wasn’t leaving and so came into the store, bought a coffee and sat at a table with a direct view of me. He continued watching me.

Frantically, I messaged an endless number of group chats involving people I knew in the area. Numerous people told me to ring them or the police, but again – I was too scared to make any obvious moves.

A friend even rang Bru and asked them to help. But they said it wasn’t their job to do anything to help me and unless I approached them and flagged it up, they wouldn’t do anything to help.

I was stuck.

Emergency SOS

Eventually, three male friends in the area who were on a night out came to meet me. When the guy following me saw I was no longer alone and with a group of guys, he got up and had to barge past my friends to leave. They all gave him knowing glares.

Unfortunately, this kind of event happens all too often. I know at least four female friends this has happened to.

It is exactly the kind of situation where the new Emergency SOS feature would have come in handy.

iOS 11's Emergency SOS feature
iOS 11’s Emergency SOS feature Twitter

The feature requires people to press the lock button quickly five times and it will bring up a slider. Use the slide, and your phone will place a call to your local emergency services. This extra step is to prevent accidental 911 calls.

There is, however, an  ‘Auto Call’ setting that lets you bypass the swiper and ring emergency services just by pressing the button five times.

Emergency SOS is automatically included on every iPhone running on the new iOS 11.

Making the feature even more impressive, Apple will notify your emergency contacts if you use the Emergency SOS feature if you have to use it.

You can enable this by putting your emergency contacts into your Health app.

There’s a three-second countdown to allow you time to cancel the call in case it was an accident.

This is how it will help LGBTI people

This feature will goes further than helping people who are being followed home though.

Unfortunately, as LGBTI people still face everyday homophobia all over the world, it could become an important tool for them too.

At Gay Star News, all too often we hear stories of prejudice. Just this month in the UK British lesbian, gay and bisexual people reported 78% more hate crime since 2013.

Even closer to home, my colleague had homophobic abuse shouted at him and his husband in the street.

In these situations, the fear is that if your attacker is aware you’ve contacted the police, this will aggravate them more.

Emergency SOS allows people to call for help without making it obvious.

In the UK, if you dial the emergency services but aren’t in a position where you can talk, you’re encouraged to dial 55.

This is the Silent Solutions procedure. The operator knows when you dial 55 that you haven’t called 999 accidentally and you do need help.

The USA has an equivalent called the Silent Call Procedure. The caller is first required to press 1, 2 or 3 according to what service they require. The dispatcher may then ask yes or no questions and the caller can then press 4 for yes or 5 for no.

For more help and support across the world see our list of LGBT friendly services.

It took marrying my husband to realize the extent of everyday homophobia