Apple will also use technology from emergency technology company RapidSOS to share HELO location data with 911 centers. Since 2015, iPhones have been able to pinpoint their users' locations relatively accurately, using a combination of Global Positioning System and nearby wifi networks, a technology the company calls HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location).
Under the new system, iPhones will send their exact location to a RapidSOS dispatcher, which will then forward the coordinates to local emergency response centers.
The hope here is that Apple jumpstarts a shift within the wireless industry that will allow emergency responders to automatically locate mobile callers in most - if not all - scenarios.
"Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal", Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement released via Apple's press department.
The iOS 12 change list now includes a potentially life-saving upgrade in the U.S., one that will allow first responders to pinpoint your whereabouts in an emergency. "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance". Its location services exceed this requirement today, and now 911 centers will have access to the same accuracy. Promisingly, Google's data gave operators an average location estimate radius of 121 feet, compared to the average from carrier data of 522 feet. Apple typically releases its major iOS updates in September. Android's phone app shares users' Global Positioning System location during emergency calls. The service is free for call centers to implement.
Given Apple's firm stance on iPhone user privacy, the company stresses that user location data can not be used for any non-emergency objective, and only the 911 center will have access to the user's location during an emergency call.
Former top officials at the Federal Communications Commission lauded Apple's move.