A very strange incident happened recently to Apple’s division in California. The local 911 department receives thousands of calls from its territory on a regular basis. From October 2017 to February 2018, the 911 department received 2028 calls. According to 911 operators, on a regular day in January, all of the phone lines seemed to be busy and going nuts with incoming calls. The police were quickly able to catch on that most of these calls were fake, but could not determine where they were coming from. Even today the reason and cause is still uncertain.
The division from which the strange 911 calls were registered and coming from, is engaged in servicing (mainly, repairing) the company’s phones. You would assume the easiest way to get to the bottom of this issue would be to just contact that division of the company and question what was happening. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The issue is that the repair service serves as a very positive addition to the area it is located in. It is a large company and provides thousands of employees jobs, therefore helping local residents. If the police put too much pressure on the company, there is a small fear the company can just relocate to a different place.
The police unfortunately cannot just tolerate all of these false calls as well. It prevents them from distinguishing normal and urgent calls from false ones. This issue was reported to the local CBS unit, but unfortunately did not cause any big uproar or reaction. It turns out that the company has been working on figuring out this issue itself as well. The calls that were coming in that seemed to be fake, happened to be unidentified. Meaning the phones have not been activated yet. Apple legally cannot disable the function of not being able to dial 911 due to the laws of the Federal Communications Commission.
At first it was assumed that the reason for these calls was maybe because the iPhone 8 is a little bigger than its previous generations. Devices for enterprises are stored in slots that have been used for previous phone models. This is specifically about repaired or refurbished phones, not new ones. Since the phones are slightly larger in size, the phones are probably pressing against the edges of their boxes that are a bit too small and possibly pressing on the phone, as a result causing it to make accidental calls. They tried to replace the slots so they weren’t as small but it unfortunately did not help. Unexplained calls continued to happen anyway. Therefore, it was decided to try to radically change the design of the slots, which was done as well.
Unfortunately, the restricted access to the division itself prevents the problem from being solved. Apple has even stated they tried to change the method and type of packaging twice. It may have partially solved the issue because less suspicious calls happened. Nonetheless, it did not completely solve the issue and the unexplained calls continued occur.
The corporation has now ordered a new type of storage slots. A batch of 30,000 copies should be coming in soon and we are hoping it will help resolve the issue. As far as we can understand, the new batch is equipped with sheets of material that is opaque to radio emission. So even if a phone tries to dial 911, the signal just will not pass. Programmers are now also trying to work on a solution to this problem. Apple may even release a patch that will eliminate false calls.
The police have transferred all the data they have about these false calls to Apple, so perhaps the corporation itself can try to identify the issue. Overall, everyone is working hard to try to understand how these false calls are happening. For the time being though, not the police, not Apple itself, no expert is 100% sure if these calls are even due to accidental dialing of the phones. It for now still remains a mystery.