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New feature could secretly dial 911 on iPhones: Apple patent

iPhone shipments to the U.S., arguing that the phones infringe on six of its patents.
iPhone shipments to the U.S., arguing that the phones infringe on six of its patents. Kiichiro Sato/AP

If you are kidnapped and need to call 911 discreetly, there may soon be an app for that.

A new patent filed by Apple to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office details a new technology for an iPhone to quickly and automatically call 911.

But as CNBC points out, not all patent applications come to fruition.

The patent says the current ways to call 911 – which includes prominent, visible instructions – are inadequate.

“When a user utilizes a mobile phone to contact emergency services in this way, that fact that he is doing so can be readily apparent to someone watching his actions,” it states.

It’s a feature they hope will help people who are being watched or forced to use their phone by an aggressor or assailant.

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It’s the type of thing that a woman from Florida could have used when she had to resort to adding a message to an online pizza order in 2015.

Under the comments section, she wrote a message asking employees to call police because she and her children were being held hostage by her boyfriend. The employees alerted police.

WATCH: Florida woman who says she was held hostage all day uses online pizza order to get help

The SOS-type of feature would be triggered by a variety of things, the patent explains, which includes scanning fingerprint positions, detecting a finger combination (like index-ring-pinky), and measuring the amount of force used when inputting a pattern.

The phone would then be able to transmit the user’s location, record video and audio, or a variety of other features.

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It’s similar to the SOS feature on the Apple Watch, in which users press a specific button that automatically calls the authorities.

READ MORE: Could your smartwatch save your life? Alberta man says yes

Apple has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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