Apple is making it easier for iPhone and Apple Watch owners to share their medical information with 911 call centers during an emergency. On Wednesday, the company said iOS 13.5, which it will start rolling out over the next couple of weeks, will allow you to set up your phone or smartwatch to share any information you have saved in your Medical ID automatically.
If you're not familiar with Medical ID, it's a feature within Apple's Health app. You can edit it to include information like your blood type, any existing medical conditions you may have, emergency contacts as well as any food and medical allergies. With the new functionality, your Apple device will use your location to determine if you're in an area with support for Enhanced Emergency Data services when you call 911. It will then use the system to share your Medical ID securely. Whatever you decide to include in your Medical ID, it's also encrypted on your device. The company says the new feature will work in conjunction with the Apple Watch Series 4’s and Series 5’s fall detection tech.
The idea here is that the feature can help in a situation in which you might not be able to talk to a 911 operator yourself.
The new functionality complements another feature that's been in iOS for a while. You can set up your iPhone to display your Medical ID in case of an emergency. Once you turn on the feature, an icon on the bottom left of your iPhone's lock screen allows a first responder to see your Medical ID card without unlocking your phone. In both instances, Medical ID could be helpful during a time when first responders are already overtaxed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.