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Apple’s New iPhone SOS Feature: Great for the Real Deal, Ripe for Abuse by Feckless Morons

I actually hike (alone) in places where I could die by falling, freezing to death were I to break a leg, etc. I have done so for decades. I have put in the time, selected the right gear, done all the hard work of experience for 40 years. I go prepared, I don’t go beyond my capabilities, I take extra clothing and food, water filter, fire kit, knife, etc. If I have to overnight with a broken ankle or whatever, I have a good chance of surviving and getting out and down, one way or another. Though maybe not comfortably.

Hence the use of a SPOT personal beacon when I deem the risk warrants it. Never had to use it. So of course the iPhone SOS feature is appealing (assuming the iPhone battery is not dead, vs a SPOT which is not turned on unless you need it).

But what happens to the burden and risk for SAR teams when inexperienced people now think an iPhone gets you a SAR home-in-time-for-dinner rescue? That a cold night out demands a full-blown rescue?

A good feature that will kill rescuers and be abused

If you do stuff that might result in needing rescue, buy an insurance plan for it, because if you are like the two clowns in Apple’s video, you might be footing a $50K bill. Even if you were fully prepared and just had bad luck. The SPOT personal beacon offers such insurance.

Now, all you need to consume expensive and scarce SAR resources and sooner or later kill people (eg your rescuers) is (a) be an unprepared dumb-fuck, and (b) an iPhone.

The new Apple video showing the SOS feature makes me want to vomit with disgust.

It shows a helicopter crew risking their lives as a storm approaches to rescue a pair of feckless dumb-fucks on top of a mountain(!)* wearing clothes that belong at a shopping mall in Florida, using their magic iPhone to get a $50K helicopter ride back. All accompanied by music which extols how wonderful it is to be in no real danger while putting the rescue team in danger, and get home in time for dinner via helicopter ride. Which they deserve to pay in full. Those two Apple clowns (were it a real rescue) should be considered for prosecution for abuse of expensive and scarce resources meant for real emergencies.

I’ve seen hundreds of idiots like this on Mt Whitney, where when summiting it with my daughter four years ago, the rangers had to rescue five (5) people in just one week, in fair summer weather. It’s become an internet thing to go do Mt Whitney or similar with no experience, gear never used or worn before, no fitness, no brains whatsoever. A first summit with no experience has become the norm, and those poor rangers are now dealing with it.

It’s only going to get worse with this latest Apple mountains-are-the-mall feature. Already, the NFS shuts down access to areas at the mere hint of a storm, locking me out of areas I wish to access; they never used to do that—the consequences of the feckless moron crowd is already hurting responsible users.

* Where they risk lightning strike and are maximally exposed to wind and rain, show no signs of distress, etc, and presumably just got done with Instagram and Twitter moments earlier. The messaging is absolutely atrocious. Some jackass in Apple marketing is doing the public a huge disservice.

Mt Whitney, pre-dawn
Mt Whitney, pre-dawn
f8 @ 15.0 sec panorama 4 frames, ISO 100; 2018-12-22 06:30:46
GFX 50R + Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR @ 205.5mm equiv (250mm)
ENV: Alabama Hills view of Mt Whitney, altitude 4000 ft / 1219 m, 40°F / 4°C
RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]
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