We love all the extras and options premium, but in technology, the best features are the ones you can’t see. One of the flagship features of the Apple Watch Series 4 is ‘fall detection’, which is a good example.
As the name suggests, the feature was designed to detect when you fall, display an on-screen message asking if you are okay, and offer you the option of calling an ambulance. If you remain seated for more than a minute, the call will be made automatically.
Hopefully most of us never need this feature, but it’s good to know it’s here, especially for the elderly, people with disabilities, and other at-risk groups.
In this article, we explain how to enable and use drop detection on your Apple Watch.
What do you need to use fall detection?
In order to take advantage of the “Drop Detection” feature of watchOS, you must have an Apple Watch Series 4 or later. The feature is not available on previous models, but we believe it will be available on the 7 Series.
How to activate fall detection on your Apple Watch
First, if you are 65 or older and you informed your Apple Watch when setting up your smart watch (or you have added your age in the Health app), then the ‘Fall detection’ function will have been activated by default.
Those under 65 will need to open the Watch app on the paired iPhone, and in the “ My Watch ” tab, tap “ SOS Emergency ” (near the bottom of the second group of options). Then you will have to activate the “fall detection”.
When you want to deactivate the option, you will have to repeat this process and deactivate the switch next to “Fall detection”.
How fall detection works
Once activated, your watch will pay attention to your activity for anything suspicious. If he thinks you’ve fallen, he’ll give you a haptic “tap” on your wrist and display an on-screen message to see if you’re okay and offer you the option to call emergency services.
Drag the “Emergency SOS” slider to accept it. You can tell him you’re okay, or leave him as is, and no ambulance will be called. Obviously, if you can’t move normally, you should consider whether you should call 911.
If you freeze after the fall, the watch will start to spin. After one minute of stillness, it will start a 15-second countdown, touching you and making a fairly loud noise. At the end, it will call 911. Press “Cancel” to avoid it, then confirm the changes.
In any case, after calling emergency services, the watch will notify your emergency contact of your fall, to whom it will send your location and explain that you have fallen and that emergency services have been contacted.
Undetected falls and false positives
Apple explicitly points out that not all crashes are detected. Obviously this will depend on the severity of the fall and that is surely a plus, as you don’t want the process to activate every time you stumble lightly. But you shouldn’t even be relying on this feature if you fall wrong.
When we tested the Apple Watch Series 4, we specifically dropped, as badly as possible, about six times, and the message only appeared twice. Now, since these were “fake” falls, maybe it would have been different if they had been real.
On the other hand, the company also warns that people who are very physically active could receive false positives, as high-impact activity could be mistaken for a fall. In our case, we don’t get it, but maybe that says a lot about our way of life.