You may never need the Apple Watch's SOS feature, which lets you call emergency medical services at the press of a button. But just having it available can be a life-saver — and I'm not using that phrase lightly.

If you're curious about how to use SOS and configure it on your Apple Watch, read on.

What is SOS?

Apple's SOS feature gives users a single- or multi-touch way to quickly dial emergency medical services in their current area — whether you're local or traveling overseas. In addition, your watch can ping pre-set emergency contacts with a text message letting them know that you've activated SOS.

After SOS is activated, your watch will display your current Medical ID, so that responders can instantly see important medical information like your height, weight, allergies, and the like.

How to activate multi-press SOS

  1. Press and hold the Side Button on your Apple Watch. Release it when you see the Power Off slider.
  2. Swipe right on the Emergency SOS slider.

SOS will then activate, calling EMS and sending a text message to your emergency contacts.

How to activate single-press SOS

Note: This variation only works after you've enabled single-press SOS.

  1. Press and hold the Side Button on your Apple Watch.
  2. Continue holding the Side Button. If you have single-press SOS enabled, your watch will begin counting down from 3 and sending out alarm tones to let you know you will soon trigger an automatic SOS call.

To cancel the SOS call, stop holding the Side Button any time before the countdown reaches 1. Once the countdown finishes and the SOS bar fills, the local emergency line will be called and your contacts will be informed.

How to enable or disable single-press SOS

By default, SOS is configured to activate after you've pressed and held the Side Button, then swiped right on the Emergency SOS toggle. But if you want an even easier way to activate the feature, you can turn on a setting that lets you activate SOS just by holding down the Side Button.

  1. Go to the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on General > Emergency SOS.
  3. Switch the Hold to Auto Call toggle to on.

Once you've done so, you can still press and hold the Side Button to get the Power Off, Medical ID, or SOS sliders, but if you continue to hold the Side Button, you'll activate single-press SOS mode.

How to add emergency contacts

You can add up to three emergency contacts from your group of friends and family to be automatically notified should you enable SOS. Here's how to do so:

Questions?

Let us know below.

Updated January 2018: Updated for iOS 11, watchOS 4, and single-press SOS.

Apple Watch

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