Car crash detection might soon lose its Pixel exclusivity

Car crash detection on a Google Pixel 4 XL
(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A line of code in the latest Google Personal Safety app suggests that the Pixel-exclusive crash detection feature could be coming to more Android devices soon.
  • Additional crisis alerts could also be making their way to non-Pixel phones according to code in the same app update.
  • Google often debuts features like this on Pixel phones to test long-term and then rolls them out to other Android phones over time.

Pixel owners will know that one of the coolest hidden features on their phone is the crash detection feature. That feature, along with Google crisis alerts, might be coming to non-Pixel Android-powered phones in the near future according to code found in the latest Google personal safety app, version 2022.05.25.

When enabled (opens in new tab), crash detection uses a series of ultra-low power sensors to detect audio and high-speed movement to determine if a device has been involved in a crash. If the Pixel detects a vehicle collision, an alarm will sound and the Pixel will ask if you need help. If you don't respond, the Pixel will then attempt to reach emergency response personnel on your behalf.

Additionally, the personal safety app on Pixel phones can be used to alert users when disasters like a flood or earthquake is about to happen in their area, or if a wildfire or hurricane is nearby. All these features — and possibly more — could make their way to great Android phones (opens in new tab) in the near future according to Esper technical editor Mishaal Rahman.

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Google first introduced crash detection back in March 2020 (opens in new tab) and has, thus far, only made the feature available on Pixel-branded devices. Part of the reason for this exclusivity is that crash detection uses sensors that Google purposefully includes on Pixel phones that help determine the phone's location, specific activity detected through motion sensors, and nearby sounds without draining the battery.

It seems that Google will be working with Android manufacturers via a new Partner Technology Manager position that was hired back in March (opens in new tab) to implement both car crash detection and crisis alerts on non-Pixel phones. As this is just a hidden line of code, there's no word yet on which phones will receive the feature or when such an integration could happen.


Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu