For earthquakes, Android has a feature that few people know about and which could save your life: all the information.

Among the natural phenomena that frighten us the most we certainly find the earthquake. This is because the various earthquakes are unpredictable to say the least and can hit a nation at any moment. From the bradyseism phenomenon like that of the Campi Flegrei, to the violent earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey, up to the most recent one in the Philippines, this feature of Android phones can be particularly useful.

An Android feature turns smartphones into seismographs –

Google has therefore recently announced the introduction of a new feature called Earthquake Alerts. As you will understand from the name, thanks to this function every user will receive notifications every time an earthquake occurs.

The move by the Mountain View giant aims to create “the largest earthquake detection network in the world”, taking advantage of the billions of Android devices spread globally. It is therefore important for users to understand how this works and above all why it is particularly useful.

Earthquakes, this feature turns Android smartphones into seismographs

Four years ago, the University of California developed an app called MyShake. This was designed to detect earthquakes using accelerometers in users’ smartphones. The app could distinguish normal vibrations associated with daily phone use from those caused by an earthquake, thus offering short notice to nearby users. Due to its lack of popularity, however, the application was soon forgotten. However, Google took inspiration from this app for its Earthquake Alerts.

How Earthquake Alerts works –

The new Earthquake Alerts feature takes advantage of the accelerometers found in all Android smartphones. These sensors can detect P waves, the first wave produced by an earthquake that is typically less damaging than the subsequent one, known as an S wave. When the phone detects potential seismic signals, it sends data to Google’s server along with a approximation of the location where the earthquake occurred.

By analyzing data from numerous phones in the same area, Google can determine if an earthquake is coming. The possibility of receiving a warning even just a few seconds before an earthquake can also be decisive for maintaining one’s personal safety. This warning period could allow people to seek shelter or leave a building.

Earthquake Alerts can provide a significant timing advantage over seismic wave propagation, offering up to a minute’s warning. Google plans to make Earthquake Alerts as part of Google Services on all devices running Android 5 or later. In this way the Mountain View company will be able to reach approximately 2.5 billion phones.

The update will be instant, not requiring approval from the phone manufacturer. As in the case of contact tracing for the coronavirus, the activation of Earthquake Alerts will be immediately available to everyone, requiring only the activation of geo-location on the phone. In the experimental phase, the service will only be available in California, before being extended to all users around the world.