Whether you’re in a known active area, or one where earth tremors or quakes are rare, it’s nice to get a heads up. That’s exactly what the Android Earthquake Alerts System is intended to do. The system has already been active in multiple areas for some time, now rolling out to Australia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Features like this usually raise a few questions like what does it cost, how do I enable it and how does it work? The short answer is nothing, it’s available through your device location settings and the system uses accelerometers in active Android smartphones to detect seismic activities. It alerts people in two ways โ€” via Search and directly on the Android mobile device itself.

In terms of what this means for users, there are a couple of potential outcomes:

Be Aware alerts people when earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.5 occur, or an intensity level of 3 or 4 on the MMI scale. The notification is sent along with the distance of the earthquake’s epicentre. The alert uses the phoneโ€™s current volume, vibration, and Do Not Disturb settings.

Take Action is a full-screen alert for earthquakes with a magnitude higher than 4.5, or an intensity level of 5 and above on the MMI scale. To help people prepare for potential heavy shaking, full-screen instructions are shown and the phone plays a loud sound.

Once you’re presented with the alert, you can read more into it by tapping the notification which will get your attention. This will provide you with information to keep yourself and those around you safe in an active emergency situation.

While it’s a rarity, it’s well worth having an emergency set up for the unexpected such as extended power outages, earthquakes and alien invasions. What? It’s 2022 and given the last couple of years, are you really going to rule it out? Stay safe out there.