How to use the Google Pixel Safety Check feature


The Android-powered Google Pixel line of phones received a very important updated feature dedicated to user’s personal safety. Learn how to use the Safety Check feature.

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Recent updates to Android 10 on the Google Pixel line of smartphones have brought a number of really interesting features to the platform; one such feature is the Personal Safety app. With this new entry into the Android ecosystem, you are able to ensure your emergency contacts can be apprised of your whereabouts and if there’s cause to be concerned.

Those emergency contacts could be loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, or managers. Anyone that should be aware of your location will be relieved that you are employing this feature.

But how does it work? It’s actually quite simple.

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What you’ll need

As mentioned earlier, the Personal Safety app is only available for the Google Pixel line of phones. This is a shame, as this app should be installable on any Android device. Once you’ve used the app, you’ll realize just how important it could be for a large number of users.

That being said, in order to make use of this app, you’ll need a Pixel phone. However, your emergency contacts do not need to have such a device.

How to use the Safety Check feature

The first thing you’re going to need to do is configure your Emergency Contacts. For this, you can refer to my article: How to set up Emergency Sharing on a Google Pixel device. Once you have your emergency contacts set up, you can then begin using the Safety Check feature.

Note: I ran into an issue where the Safety Check feature refused to work, due to an “issue with Maps.” The issue wasn’t clear, but after I opened Google Maps and allowed it to sync with my location, the Safety Check feature was working again. If you have the same problem, open Maps and let it find you.

With everything taken care of, open the Personal Safety app. From the main page, tap Safety check in the bottom-left corner (Figure A).

Figure A

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The Personal Safety app main window on a Google Pixel 4.

In the resulting window, select the reason you are turning on the Safety Check from the top drop-down (Figure B).

Figure B

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Setting up your first Safety Check on a Google Pixel 4.

When you tap the drop-down, you can select from four options or you can write a custom reason (Figure C).

Figure C

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Selecting the reason for your Safety Check.

Select the duration you’ll be gone from the bottom drop-down and tap Next.

In the final screen, you can select which emergency contacts to notify that you’ll be gone (Figure D).

Figure D

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Selecting your emergency contacts for the Safety Check.

At the bottom of this window, you can also opt to automatically notify contacts when you turn on Safety Check. Tap the On/Off slider to the On position and tap Turn On. 

Your emergency contacts will be notified you’ve turned the Safety Check on. 

In the final screen, you will see a summary of your check. When the check-in time arrives, if you don’t respond, your emergency contacts will be notified. You can also turn the Safety Check off at any time by tapping Turn Off in the upper-right corner (Figure E).

Figure E

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The summary of your Safety Check.

If you pull down your notification shade, you’ll notice another very important feature–a safety check entry that gives you quick access to 911 (Figure F). 

Figure F

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Quick access to 911 while the Safety Check is on.

When you arrive back from your outing, make sure to turn off the Safety Check. If you don’t, you’ll be reminded when the time you set has lapsed. If you do not respond to that check in, your emergency contacts will be notified and can act accordingly.

This new feature should be considered a must-have for many users, so much so that Google really needs to make this app available to all Android users.

Give the Safety Check app a try and see if you (or those who care about you) don’t come to depend on this new feature.

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