First National UK Emergency Alerts Test Set for Today, But iPhones Won’t Be Included in Testing Until Next Week

The U.K. government on Tuesday will perform its first national test of a new Emergency Alerts system, but only Android users will receive the alert, with iPhones to be included in a smaller, regional test later this month, the Cabinet Office has confirmed to MacRumors.

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The government-issued emergency alerts, set to go live this summer, are part of a public safety system similar to one used in the U.S. that is designed to warn smartphone and tablet users if there’s a danger to life nearby, with advice about how to stay safe. Alerts will be either national or localized depending on the threat level, and will be sent in cases of severe flooding, fires, explosions, terrorist incidents, and public health emergencies.

When an alert arrives, your phone or tablet may make a loud siren-like sound, even if it’s set to silent, vibrate, or read out the alert. When an alert is received, the sound and vibration will last for about 10 seconds, and some alerts may include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website for more information.

On Tuesday, the government and mobile phone networks are due to test the emergency alerts nationally for the first time, between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. local time. The first test will occur for Android devices only, while iPhones will be included in a test for the first time on Tuesday, 29 June, although the test will be localized in the Reading, Berkshire area.

Users can opt out of some emergency alerts, but not the most serious ones, says the U.K. government. Users can’t opt out by subject, only by how serious the emergency is. If you opt out because you do not want flood warnings, for example, you might miss alerts for fires and terrorism. For this reason, the official advice is to keep emergency alerts switched on.

Emergency alerts work on iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later. The ability to opt-out appears on iPhones in Settings -> Notifications, under “Emergency Alerts, where there’s a switch to disable “Severe Alerts.”

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