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Amber Alert on iPhone: What You Need to Know

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One of the first iPhone Amber Alerts hit phones in San Antonio today, sounding loud urgent alarms on any iPhone running iOS 6 within the location of the Amber alert.

If you heard the loud, slightly annoying, sound on your iPhone, don’t freak out. The Wireless Amber Alert system is shutting down at the end of the year and the iPhone, Android and other smartphones will now act as emergency alert systems for Amber alerts and other national emergencies.

The great part about this new system is it knows where the phone is located and sends the Amber Alert to any phone connected to a tower in that area, even if it’s a phone tied to a town thousands of miles away.

Read: iOS 6 Delivers Emergency Alerts to iPhone Users

Amber Alert iPhone Dallas

This is all thanks to the new Emergency Alert System built into the cellular networks across the U.S. The system uses broadcast SMS to send massive amount of alerts out at once, something that’s not easy to do with standard text messages.  Verizon provided an in depth look at the Emergency Alert System to Gotta Be Mobile before the system launched that explains more about why and how it was set up.

Read: Why AT&T iPhone Users Don’t Get Emergency Alerts

The Amber Alerts cover lost or missing children, and the Emergency Alerts include weather emergencies like flooding, hurricanes and more. It’s great to see this system in place since many users are not near a TV or radio during times of emergency.

Emergency Alert iPhone Amber Alert

The Amber Alert on the iPhone will look similar to this.

The Amber Alerts are location aware, so if you didn’t get a notification you may be too far away from the emergency or Amber Alert. If you are in the area and your iPhone did not get the Amber Alert there are two things to check.

If the iPhone is not running iOS 6 or higher the emergency alerts will not work. IOS 6 is a free update for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. Here’s how to update to iOS 6, which will automatically install the latest version iOS 6.0.2.

iOS 6 iPhone Amber Alerts

Turn on Amber Alert for iPhone.

The next step is to make sure Emergency Alerts and Amber Alerts are turned on. To do this tap on Settings -> Notifications -> scroll to the bottom and Toggle On.

This is also where users can turn off the notifications, though we recommend leaving them on to get important updates that could save their life or someone else’.

Why Are There no Amber Alerts on AT&T iPhones?

Some AT&T customers report no option to change these settings. The AT&T Emergency Alert page doesn’t show support for the iPhone, so users may need to wait for support.

Stay tuned for more on AT&T and Amber Alerts on the iPhone.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

32 Comments

  1. Jim Barton

    12/18/2012 at 5:36 pm

    In the Dallas Fort Worth Area < Arlington PD issue a Amber Alert today and I got on my Verizon IPhone 4S with the OS 6 software in it. This was the frist alert I seen or got on the new National Alert system. I frankly like the ideal.

    • Roland Marion

      12/18/2012 at 7:06 pm

      I do not like any Government employee or Government agency sending anything to my phone. It is my phone and my business. They did not pay for it so they do not get to control it. You bleeding heart liberals need to get in line though and support your government controlled phone. Be sure and practice your marching in line to the beat of the government that wants to control your every thought. (P.S. I have apps that I have approved that give me the warnings I need.)

      • Leslie Williamson

        01/08/2013 at 1:43 pm

        Hi there Roland…uptight much? Lol! If you had read the article above in its entirety, you would have read that there is an option to deactivate Amber Alerts if you do not wish to receive them. So please, try not to fret.

        Personally, I love he idea of being notified if I am possibly in a position to help with information concerning the possible whereabouts of a missing or abducted child. As a parent myself, I can certainly appreciate a system such as this, and would find it invaluable if it was one of my own children who was missing.

      • vanderdeckerScott

        02/08/2013 at 3:38 pm

        Yes, horrible of those liberals to put out an alert about a kidnapped child.

      • True American

        02/14/2013 at 1:54 pm

        So something that could save a child’s life (or even your own) is suddenly inconvenient because some “bleeding heart liberal” sent it? You are a waste of human flesh! Oh, by the way, the Amber Alert initiative was started under a conservative Republican president, not a “bleeding heart liberal.” I hope your own children never need an Amber alert to save their lives because they would know that Daddy would rather some child molesting monster take them than have 20 seconds of his precious time wasted. Jerk!

        • Scott

          02/14/2013 at 8:00 pm

          If it wasn’t clear, I was being facetious.

          • Relax!

            05/21/2013 at 3:25 pm

            It was clear! And funny too! ;)

      • [email protected]

        02/21/2013 at 9:47 am

        IDiot!

      • Relax!

        05/21/2013 at 3:22 pm

        @Roland: So turn off the alerts! Sheesh! And the GPS signal while you are at it. When someone is chasing you with a gun or you have a stroke and cant talk and you dial 911 from your cell they won’t be able to find you, but that’s your choice….
        You are stressing the wrong things here…
        they don’t need the phone to track you, if they want to watch you satellite cameras can zero in on you anytime you are in view of the sky. Maybe you should use an umbrella 24/7? And, don’t ever talk in the phone either- they can listen in on that anytime, too. Maybe you shouldn’t have a phone at all?
        I don’t think the amber alert system and emergency alert system is some conspiracy, I am glad they have it and I could only hope that someday I could do something that helps someone recover their lost child or children. This service is more of a “community link” than “a way for big bro to track you”.
        So far as I can tell, you can no longer get amber alert text messages, so how else would you receive them? Just keep the website up all the time? I am seriously asking, how do you get amber alerts if you turn this feature off?

  2. Glen

    01/14/2013 at 6:17 pm

    Received it here at the foot of the Catskills, NY (Near Narrowsburg and Monticello) on iPhone 5 with Verizon,

    BUT… now what?

    All it says is “please check local media.” WHAT local media? I live in the freakin’ middle of nowhere (after 15 years in NYC). I would say the chances of a mysterious car coming down my dirt road is pretty slim, but i AM curious…

  3. Jennifer

    01/23/2013 at 9:06 am

    I have the iPhone 4 iOS 6.0.1 and no where in my notifications center does it give me a section for government alerts. I have sprint! My sister and mom are on the same plan and they have androids, they have a choice to turn on amber alerts in their notifications center.

  4. ellenasmith1213

    01/24/2013 at 10:56 am

    my phone is also at iOS 6.0.1 like Jennifer above, and I do not have this option.

  5. Alyssa

    04/04/2013 at 10:30 am

    I have the iPhone 4 iOS 6.1.3. With Verizon. And I don’t have the option in my notifications bar. Help.

    • LoveYourNeighbor

      05/21/2013 at 3:45 pm

      @Alyssa- try rebooting your phone. In settings/notifications all your apps should be listed, these alerts options are at the very bottom (I have a lot of apps, had to scroll way down!) I think they are set as “on” initially. If you still can’t find it I would try apple online support. Your last update may have had an error or something.
      Good luck!

  6. Lawrence

    04/12/2013 at 9:50 pm

    It should be Opt in, not Opt out, on all alerts from the government. I still have IOS5 on mine so I won’t be bothered by the alerts. You can’t opt out of a presidential alert, why not? I am not a Federal employee, the president doesn’t outrank me. Who made this stupid decision?, some idiot lunatic? Biden????

    • Scott

      04/13/2013 at 12:16 pm

      I guess they decided to err on the side of trying to save a kid’s life.

      And how on Earth did you find *rank* anywhere here?

      • Sarcasticgurl

        05/21/2013 at 3:49 pm

        Yeah, those crazy parents wanting people to help look for their abducted children…what are they thinking….
        (Sarcasm – incase the tone isn’t clear ;)

  7. TheJudge

    05/22/2013 at 10:14 am

    There is no need to force presidential alerts on anyone – how about letting us turn off this function as well? As for the the remaining two alerts, I leave them on. If I can help someone who is in trouble, I will.

    • Scott

      05/22/2013 at 11:58 am

      What “presidential alerts?” There are 1) amber alerts, and 2) emergency alerts–check the screenshots.

      • jimndfw

        05/22/2013 at 12:01 pm

        These one issued by the White House or US Goverment.

  8. TheGooch

    05/25/2013 at 2:53 pm

    What I don’t get is that you get this alert while you’re out and about, with nothing but your phone with you, there is no easy way to get more information( a clickable url would be nice) or to share it on Facebook so that people who don’t get the alert can know about it.

  9. Mike W.

    07/01/2013 at 3:49 am

    The alert system is a great thing. But I can’t look for a van while I am sleeping. Can it be made smart enough to let me look after I wake?

  10. Karen

    07/01/2013 at 9:25 am

    I don’t have a problem receiving the alerts — but they show up on my lock screen, and can’t be seen in their entirety. Then when I open up to the home screen, they’re gone and I don’t know how to access the information. Any suggestions?

    • Kathleen L.

      08/06/2013 at 7:18 am

      I have the same problem. I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere.

      • Chris

        08/11/2013 at 12:59 am

        Just swipe down from top of your phone. It will appear in your notification.

  11. Michael

    07/30/2013 at 7:38 pm

    You can turn off everything but presidential alerts. Last thing i want to do is to get woke up by this crack head president

    • Scott

      07/30/2013 at 7:57 pm

      Complain to Congress, then; they’re the ones who mandated that presidential alerts can’t be turned off.

  12. Mike

    08/06/2013 at 12:19 pm

    I have sprint and I got an alert and my wife didnt

  13. Hai

    08/06/2013 at 12:47 pm

    I stopped it because I got a Amber alert at 3 in the morning for an ad of Nissan 4 doors, AC,,,, that abuse was SO STUPID EVER !!!

  14. Pat

    08/07/2013 at 7:16 pm

    I consider myself a “bleeding heart” liberal but I did not authorize anyone to send that awful blaring alarm to my iphone at 11:00pm. Apparently the iphone companies have this setting turned on when you buy your phone but don’t tell you about it. I have turned off both the amber alert and the government alert on my phone and they will stay off – I can get those alerts over the TV during the day. I’m sorry but this amber alert was for a missing child 300 miles from my home and I wasn’t about to get up, go to my car and drive around California aimlessly to look for anyone!

  15. vanderdecker

    03/31/2013 at 7:23 am

    Not a poor design, a difference in priorities. It’s considered an emergency alert, which is SUPPOSED to overcome ordinary settings to ignore notices–that’s basically implicit in the meaning of “emergency.”

    It can be turned off for those who don’t deem it important.

  16. Priorities!!

    05/21/2013 at 3:36 pm

    @vanderdecker: very well said!

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