Apple has spent much of its promotional push behind iOS 12 so far focused on features that range from silently useful, like Safari’s new privacy powers, to off-puttingly quirky, like animoji tongue-tracking. But on Monday the company detailed an upcoming iPhone upgrade with real-world consequences: It will communicate your exact location to 911 operators when you call, saving valuable time when every second matters.
To do so, Apple has partnered with RapidSOS, a startup that focuses on upgrading the byzantine backends of the nation’s roughly 6,500 emergency call centers. The move won’t improve every call to 911 overnight, but it’s as big a step as anyone has taken so far to fix a problem decades in the making.
Location, Location, Location
To understand the impact of the Apple and RapidSOS solution, it helps to know the roots of the problem. For that, you need to go back to the advent of the emergency call system, which dates back to the late 1960s.
It seems reasonable to spare you the full history