Your Android phone is about to get a life-saving upgrade

Like a smartwatch’s fall detection, but for your car. And no longer a Pixel exclusive

Android phone with security symbols in background
(Image credit: SOPA Images / Getty Images )

Cars Crash Detection is, thankfully, a life-saving feature most Google Pixel owners don’t know about. Using the motion sensors of Pixel phones, it can call the emergency services and share your location if a crash is detected and the driver is unresponsive.

Now, it looks like Google is about to bring the feature to all other Android handsets, via a future software update.

A line of code in the latest version of Pixel-only app Personal Safety, spotted and tweeted by Mishaal Rahman, mentions a function that “uses your device’s location, motion sensors, and ambient audio to detect a car crash”. Crucially, it also states “nonpixel”, suggesting the feature will work on handsets beyond those made by Google itself.

The code, which appears to be a dialogue box that will be shown to users of the app, also states how Personal Safety “may not be able to detect all crashes, and high impact activities may activate car crash detection.”

Car Crash Detection has been available exclusively to Pixel owners since early 2020, so it’s great news for owners of other Android handsets, from the likes of Samsung, who can now make use of the feature. 

Under the ‘what’s new’ section of the latest version of Personal Safety, a note states how car crash detection is now available in Spain, Ireland, Singapore and Japan. Personal Safety is a Pixel-only app, but the code spotted by Rahman suggests the Car Crash Detection function could be added to all Androids via a future operating system update. It could potentially be included in Android 13 when that arrives later this year.

We suspect Google has kept the feature Pixel-only while it works on reliability, in a bid to iron out false positives which could detect phantom crashes and call the emergency services by mistake. As ever, it is also worth adding the caveat that, while “nonpixel” is mentioned in the code, this does not necessarily mean Car Crash Detection will definitely come to other Android phones.

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.