When technology becomes a superhero: iPhone's SOS feature helps to foil attempted sexual assault

The iPhone's Emergency SOS feature helped a US woman when she fell victim to an attempted sexual assault

There have been times when technology has come to the rescue of people and in a similar case, the iPhone's Emergency SOS feature came to the rescue of a woman who was about to fall prey to a deadly sexual assault earlier this week.

A US woman who owns an iPhone has credited Apple's Emergency SOS feature for thwarting a sexual assault attempt on her during the early hours of Sunday, December 29, 2019, in Virginia Beach, VA. The woman claims that the attack could have turned deadly if not for the iPhone's emergency feature which alerted the police just in time. The woman narrated her frightening ordeal to CBS affiliate WTKR the following day.

The ordeal

iphone 6s
An iPhone 6s Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

According to the report, at around 2 AM on Sunday, December 29, the woman was approached by a stranger who claimed to have lost his own iPhone and needed help in finding the lost phone at Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The woman who was unsuspecting of the incoming danger, agreed to help just as a good Samaritan would and was taken to the broad walk.

"I wasn't suspecting he was bad. He was very normal, nice looking guy," the woman told WTKR "I was like, where are your friends? Why are you alone? And he was like, I'm in the military. I'm not from here and my brother is in the military too." The woman said that she felt bad for him.

The unidentified man then lured the woman to a secluded area in the broad walk and said that he felt that the phone was lost in the sand.

When the woman felt something was amiss

The woman let the stranger use the "Find My iPhone" app on her phone, but it didn't seem to work. She got a terrible feeling after realising the man didn't know how to navigate her iPhone to use the app. She became a little suspicious after knowing that the man was unable to navigate the phone's user interface, which prompted her to think that he didn't actually own an iPhone and that he could have made up the lost iPhone scenario.

After this the woman took her iPhone back and turned around and tried to run away, but the man came up from behind, and he began to tackle her, grabbed her face and covered her mouth, according to her narrative. The woman then began to scream for help, but the fugitive was shovelling her face under the sand and was trying to muffle her cries for help.

iPhone comes to the rescue

Fortunately for her, the Emergency SOS feature on her iPhone was enabled allowing her to automatically dial 911 without even unlocking the device. The Emergency SOS feature in the iPhone works by pressing the power button five times in quick succession. But in this particular case, the woman long pressed the power key and the volume down button simultaneously.

When cops showed up

The woman's quick thinking and the iPhone's handy security feature was enough to trigger the cops who arrived at the location through a dispatcher who had heard the woman's pleas for help. The attacker then tried to flee the spot as soon as he saw the policemen arrive, but was quickly tracked down and arrested.

The woman thanked the police for saving her from a possible rape attempt, but we cannot rule out the role of the Emergency SOS feature on her iPhone too. The Emergency SOS feature was first introduced by Apple in the Apple Watch in 2016 and later it features on the iPhones in 2017 with iOS 11.