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Sheogorath's Blog

You have to listen to the president

Today I learned that Android provides settings to manage what emergency alerts you want to receive, but not for all categories. Those alerts work by requiring the mobile telephone service providers to announce certain events as so called Cell broadcasts, SMS messages that are received by all phones in a mobile service cell. By default phones and pages are configured to announce those alerts by playing alarm sounds, vibrating and alike to draw attention to them. The levels range from “Extreme threats”, which require your immediate action as your life might be in danger, to “AMBER alerts”, which stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and tries to motivate you helping in case a child got lost/abducted in your area. There is also “presidential alerts”, which are directly issued by the president of the United States. Those alerts can’t be disabled in the settings, not even on phones that have never seen the USA.

I came across this by browsing my Android settings and wondering what that is, even when I had a rough idea. I was surprised to learn that first of all one can configure them and second which ones can’t be configured. An article by Android Central was very helpful in that regard and provides even a video example on how it sounds when your phone goes off into alert-mode. I still think it’s strange how US-focused those settings for international phones are.