May 20, 2022

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Android Error Preventing User From Calling Emergency Phone

Android Error Preventing User From Calling Emergency Phone

At the end of November 2021, an Android user in the United States noticed that his grandmother was feeling unwell – possibly a stroke. When the person attempted to call 911 – as the emergency number is known in the US – the phone turned out to be broken and refused to call and was not allowed to hang up to try again.

Fortunately for Grandma, there was a land line nearby, and an ambulance could be called to use it instead.

The user tried again later, after the crisis was over, and had the same problem then. Checking the phone bill also showed that the Pixel 3 was not actually connected to the emergency phone.

answer from google

The user posted a description of the error and the circumstances on Reddit, and Google responded to the December 8 Reddit email:

Based on our research, we were able to recreate the issue under a limited set of circumstances. We believe the issue is only present on a small number of devices with the Microsoft Teams app installed when the user is not signed in, and we are currently aware of only one user report of this error occurring. We found that the problem was caused by an accidental interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system. Microsoft worked closely with Google to resolve this unintended interaction.

Moreover, they mentioned that Microsoft will release an update to its app as soon as possible, and that Android will get a more permanent solution to the problem in a month, that is, now. And as I said, I did. The error should now be corrected.



But what really happened?

Some sort of error in the combination of the app and the phone’s operating system can prevent the user from calling emergency services – because yes, this applies not only to 911, but to emergency numbers around the world – while all other phone numbers act like normal, perhaps oddly enough. a stranger?

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Google never said what exactly the problem was, but others have since found out. Mishaal Rahman He wrote in this article what actually happened.

In short, the problem was caused by the fact that the Teams app created several instances of the same routine, time after time, without checking if it really existed, it was necessary, and without deleting the already created recurring actions. Additionally, Teams is registered as an app that can handle calls, but it isn’t specified in the code that it still can’t handle emergency calls.

Thus, Android ended up choosing Teams as the official procedure to “handle the emergency call”, without being able to implement it, resulting in a crash.

Thus the error was only expressed if you tried to call the emergency number – all other emergency numbers work as normal – and only if you have Microsoft Teams installed on the phone, but without logging into the app. At the same time, it was clear that the devices affected were random, but still only devices with Android 9 and above. Previous versions of Android do not use the current procedure that caused the problem.

The bug has now been fixed by both Microsoft and Google, and shows how important it is to keep both the phone system and apps updated.