As spotted by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, medical information, emergency contacts, emergency SOS, location services, and earthquake and emergency alerts are all now required apps under GMS rules. Many of these features have been in Android for years, either directly implemented by Google or later on by device manufacturers, but it’s great to see them now considered mandatory for all mainstream phones and tablets.
GMS (Google Mobile Services) is such an important set of apps for Android users that handsets without it have a hard time finding a market. Some of today’s most important programmes are all included in one one package, with Chrome, YouTube, Maps, and more. Manufacturers must complete a set of conditions to be eligible for GMS. A new rule for Android 12 focuses on your phone’s “Safety & emergency” settings page, guaranteeing that every Android user has a basic level of protection against allergic reactions, earthquakes, and other disasters.
If you’re still rocking Android 11, “emergency SOS” is likely the one option on this list that looks unfamiliar. This feature is new to Android 12 and can be found in the Personal Safety app on Pixel devices. One of the earliest features to show up during last year’s developer previews, SOS allows you to quickly tap the power button five times to call emergency services after a brief five-second wait.
Rahman notes that many of these — including earthquake alerts, wireless emergency alerts, and location services, are all built into Android’s settings menu via Play Services, though availability may depend on your region. It’s not the only new GMS requirement for the most recent update to Android. Screen readers for any visually impaired user are now necessary components as well. TalkBack is likely the best-known of these services, easily included by pre-installing the Accessibility Suite app.