There’s no doubt at this point that iOS 6 is one of the most feature-packed iOS updates Apple has released. There’s been a lot of attention paid to the big features Apple highlighted at their WWDC 2012 keynote last week – Maps, Siri improvements, Facebook Integration, and so on – and other features have come to light as developers have begun tinkering with the new software.
One interesting new feature that hasn’t gotten much attention is a new addition to iOS’s notification settings. While Notification Center itself got few of the updates that people wanted, Apple has made one important change that has the potential to do a lot of good. It seems that with iOS 6, your iPhone will now notify you of various government alerts. As you can see from the screenshot above, the settings for Amber alerts and emergency alerts can be switched off separately. Of course, “emergency alerts” is a pretty broad term, and it’s not clear exactly what kinds of alerts that will include.
In years past, alerts like this were broadcast through a variety of public channels. Messages would be broadcast via radio and TV. These days, though, even when people are listening to the radio or watching TV, they often aren’t doing so in a way that’s accessible for government broadcasts. Many smartphone and MP3 player owners spend relatively little time in their car listening to an actual radio broadcast, and between cord-cutters who spend most of their time watching Netflix or Hulu and cable subscribers, TV audiences aren’t as accessible either. That being the case, putting alerts like this into iOS is a brilliant move on Apple’s part, since it provides a new means of getting important information to people who need it in emergency situations.
Of course, there are some who see the new features as a potential privacy issue. Nevertheless, these sorts of alerts have the potential to do a whole lot of good.