On Friday, Huawei announced that its Honor-branded smartphones in India will henceforth come with an emergency SOS feature, thereby becoming the first brand to comply with the recently-issued directive by the country’s Federal Government to incorporate panic buttons or software SOS features in all smartphones sold in the country. The order was issued in the aftermath of some high-profile assault cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) in recent years. Transportation aggregator services like Uber had earlier already been mandated to include an SOS button on its app, after some of its drivers were accused of lewd and inappropriate behavior by female passengers. Of course, there are multiple SOS apps already available on the Play Store like bSafe, Emergency+, Emergency Button, SOS-Stay Safe, One Touch SOS etc. which are compatible with just about any Android device available on the market.
As for the Huawei feature, while future Honor smartphones will come with the application pre-installed, it will also be available for installation on other Honor phones already circulating in the market. The alarm can be activated by user-defined actions like either shaking the phone or by long-pressing a hardware key. Users would be able to choose the action as well as the type of alert (phone call or text message) that will be sent to as many as three pre-set numbers in the case of an emergency. It is worth remembering that Huawei’s Honer lineup of smartphones are sold exclusively through online retail channels in India, and are not available at brick and mortar retail outlets in the country.
Announcing its compliance with the government directive, Huawei issued a statement saying, “Our research and development unit in Bengaluru has nearly finished the integration process and the first phone to come with SOS feature will be released by October this year … The users would have the option to choose the action which is convenient to them. It would allow them to activate the alarm discreetly. The user will also be able to send their location information to the pre-set numbers making it easy for users to reach out for help in the hour of need”. Mr. Allen Wang, president of consumer business group, Huawei Telecommunication India, said: “In August, the government issued a directive to mobile phone manufacturers to incorporate a panic button on all handsets. We discussed the directive with our R&D team in India and the result is here for all to see and experience.”