SMARTPHONE AND TABLET MAKER Apple has added a feature to its IOS mobile operating system to help warn about earthquakes in Japan, a potentially life-saving tool after the devastating quake that hit the country earlier this year.
Iphone and Ipad users running IOS 5 can turn on early earthquake warning notifications at the click of a button, giving the people of Japan a warning system that provides notices from between a few seconds to two minutes before an earthquake hits. This might not sound like a lot of time, but it can be just enough to get to a safe position to avoid injury or death.
The system makes use of Japan's sophisticated earthquake alert system, which launched in 2007. Many people have access to it from their computers, radios, televisions and via SMS alerts, but built-in access on a smartphone is a major step forward for helping avoid disaster from the frequent earthquakes that hit Japan.
Apple users in Japan currently rely on apps like Yurekuru Call from the App Store, according to 9to5mac, but having a built-in feature will open up the important warning system to many more people in Japan, earning Apple some positive attention in the country.
One drawback of using the feature is its constant drain on battery life, since it is constantly connecting to the warning system. That's a small price to pay for such a beneficial feature, however, particularly given how many earthquakes happen in the region.
The question now is whether or not Google and Microsoft will decide to follow suit by adding a similar feature to Android and Windows Phone 7. It's possible that Apple might also extend the feature to other disaster prone regions around the world. µ