To help Ukraine, Google has launched ‘Air Raid Alerts’ for Android

Zoom / Doodles for Ukraine Independence Day 2018 from Google.

Air raid alerts on smartphones are one of the many shocking facts of life in Ukraine right now. While the Ukrainian government has an air raid warning system in operation 3rd party appGoogle is taking it upon itself to build an Air Raid Alerts system right into Android. The company outlined the decision on Google Blog:

Tragically, millions of people in Ukraine now rely on airstrike alerts to try to get to safety. At the request and assistance of the Government of Ukraine, we have started rolling out a rapid system of air raid alerts for Android phones in Ukraine. This work is complementary to the country’s existing air raid alert systems, and is based on alerts already delivered by the Ukrainian government.

Google is rolling out the feature via Google Play Services, which means it should work with almost every Android phone. While Android OS updates are released poorly to only a single digit percentage of users in a year, Google Play Services updates through the Play Store, so an update will happen to everyone as soon as their phone checks for app updates.

Vice President of Android Engineering, Dave Burke, announce The new feature on Twitter, which says that the alerts use the same low-latency alert system designed by the Android team Earthquake detection for Android. While an earthquake detection system can spawn its own earthquake alert by crowdsourcing accelerometer data from millions of Android phones, Google doesn’t detect air strikes and just builds a client for the government alert system.

“The system starts rolling out today and will scale up to target all Android phones in Ukraine over the next few days,” Burke says. “We thank our engineering/product/user experience teams for racing to reach [solution] in a short time.”

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