This App Turns the Apple Watch Into a 'Panic' Button

Turn any Apple Watch into an emergency alert button

A new Apple Watch app aims to keep your elderly family members safe. Called “Alert,” the app works as a panic button, allowing seniors or others who may need assistance to contact a caregiver with the touch of a button.

Apple watch on elderly woman's wrist
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How it Works

If a user decides he or she needs help, they can initiate the app from the Apple Watch face and contact a caregiver who can provide them with assistance. Thanks to changes in the operating system that became available with watchOS 2, the app can also pay attention to physiological signals and suggest that seniors might want to request assistance before an issue becomes a more serious problem.

The app can come in handy for those with medical conditions that limit their motor movement or speech. Pressing a button on your wrist is considerably easier than locating a phone, unlocking it, searching for an app, and then contacting your caregiver. Even if you don't normally have issues, if you're in the middle of an emergency, that speed could make a huge difference. Also, if you have to go through a lot of steps and are stressed, then you might potentially have difficulties performing tasks like unlocking your phone, even though you might typically be used to doing so.

The idea is to have the app mimic your traditional panic button. Many people with issues don’t want to wear panic buttons because of the stigma associated with them but they could benefit from their use nonetheless. With the app contained in an Apple Watch, seniors and others can get that same experience without having to wear something that signals to others they might have an issue.

More Than Just Seniors

The app could be useful not just for seniors, but for those who have disabilities as well, no matter what age.

Alert is available in the App Store and can be used on the Apple Watch as well as on the iPhone and iPad. Use of the app is free, with the basic plan including free text messaging to caregivers as well as three conference calls. If the app is something you find you continue to use, an upgraded subscription is also available for $9.95 per month that includes unlimited calls.

Even without the app, the Apple Watch can be a powerful tool for seniors and others who need quick access to call a caregiver or emergency contact. With the Apple Watch, for instance, you can put important contacts in your favorites and contact them during an emergency with just a few taps on your wrist, or even using Siri. That simplicity, and not having to “unlock” a phone or device before calling for help, can make a huge difference when an emergency is happening and you need to get help quickly. For someone who is in the middle of an emergency situation, those few seconds of speed can make a huge difference.