What to Do When You Get an Android or iPhone Amber Alert

iPhone Amber Alerts automatically push important alerts about missing children directly to iPhones causing phones to emit a loud noise and display a small alert on-screen.

U.S. carriers now send mobile Amber Alerts and other important emergency alerts to the iPhone 4 through iPhone 7 and to most Android smartphones. These alerts often incldue vehicle information, but the same tool can send weather alerts as well.

This is an important tool for helping identify and track down missing children, but the alerts don’t always include all the information users need to be of help to officials.

Sample iPhone Amber alert.
Sample iPhone Amber alert.

If you receive an Android or iPhone Amber Alert, there will be a small amount of information such as a child’s description or the description of a car and a license plate, but not much else. The Amber Alert on iPhone is limited to a certain number of characters like a text message. The alerts show up on the lock screen and Notification Center with a hazard triangle next to it to indicate this is an emergency alert.

There is no charge for Amber Alerts on the iPhone when delivered through this method. This Emergency alert method also covers weather related emergencies, though it does not cover things like a Thunderstorm warning.

Sample Android amber alert.
Sample Android amber alert.

Users will see an Amber Alert on the iPhone based on their location, which means if an Amber Alert is issued in New York City while you are traveling there, you will see an alert, even if your billing zip code is in Ohio. Emergency alerts work the same way.

If you get an iPhone Amber Alert, the best place to go for more information is AmberAlert.gov and MissingKids.com. Both of these websites will deliver new information about the Amber alert to your iPhone.

The free iPhone Amber Alert app offers more information.
The free iPhone Amber Alert app offers more information.

There is also a free Amber Alert iPhone app that offers more information about missing children. The app allows users to report a sighting directly from the app. This iPhone Amber Alert app has not been updated in several years but appears to function.

If you did not get an Amber Alert on the iPhone, but a coworker did, you should make sure that Government Alerts are set to on. Grab the iPhone to get started. Go to Settings -> Notifications -> Scroll down to Government Alerts and make sure Amber Alerts is marked on.

If this doesn’t solve the problem it is possible your carrier does not support the built-in iPhone Amber Alerts yet.

How to Turn Off Android & iPhone Amber Alerts

If you don’t want to get notifications for Amber Alerts you can turn them off on your iPhone. If you do this you will not get the notifications at all. You may want to consider using Do Not Disturb to prevent your iPhone from waking you up at night instead of turning them off altogether.

How to turn off iPhone Amber alerts.
How to turn off iPhone Amber alerts.

Go to Settings -> Notifications -> Scroll down and turn off Amber Alerts. This will turn off iPhone Amber alerts for your iPhone.

On Android, the settings will vary, but you can go to Settings and look for Emergency Alerts or Government Alerts to change these settings.

iOS 11 vs iOS 10: What’s New in iOS 11.2

What's New in iOS 11.1 & iOS 11.2

What's New in iOS 11.1 & iOS 11.2

The iOS 11.2 update delivers a major fix for the crashing iPhone, dozens of other fixes and includes Apple Pay Cash. 

The update is about 480MB for most users and should install pretty quickly if you are already on iOS 11.1.2.

Apple Pay Cash - This new service lets you send, request and receive money from other iPhone users. 

 

 

 


  • Adds support for faster wireless charging on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X with compatible third-party accessories
  • Introduces three new Live wallpapers for iPhone X
  • Improves video camera stabilization
  • Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
  • Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
  • Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
  • Improves stability in Calendar
  • Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
  • Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
  • Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
  • Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
  • Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
  • Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store, and Music
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

The iOS 11.1.2 update fixed the following items, which are also rolled into the iOS 11.2 update. 

  • Fixes and issue where the iPhone X screen becomes temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid temperature drop. 
  • Addresses an issue that could cause distortion in Live Photos and videos captured with the iPhone X. 

If you are on a much older version the update will be larger and it will include the other fixes listed below. 

The iOS 11.1.1 update is out now for the iPhone and iPad. This update includes all of the changes from iOS 11.1 and two very important fixes. This small update is just over 50MB in size on most iPhones that are on iOS 11.1 already. 

  • Fixes autocorrect problem that replaced "I" with a question mark box and other symbols. 
  • Fixes Hey Siri not responding. 

The iOS 11.1.1 update includes all of the same security fixes as iOS 11.1, and the new features outlined below. After a lot of iOS 11 problems, the iOS 11.1 update is about delivering a lot of fixes that will help you use the iPhone better. This is a free update that is about 200 to 300 MB in size and it is one that most users will want to install on their iPhone. Here's a full list of the changes in iOS 11.1 including many fixes for the Photos app and for Accessibility. 

  • Over 70 new emoji characters including new food types, animals, mythical creatures, clothing options, more expressive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters and more
  • Resolves an issue that could cause some photos to appear blurry
  • Addresses an issue that could cause Live Photo effects to playback slowly
  • Fixes an issue that could cause some photos to not display in the People album when restoring from an iCloud Backup
  • Fixes an issue that could impact performance when swiping between screenshots
  • Improves braille support for Grade 2 input
  • Improves VoiceOver access to multi-page PDFs
  • Improves VoiceOver rotor actions for announcing incoming notifications
  • Improves VoiceOver rotor actions menu when removing an app from the App Switcher
  • Fixes an issue for some users where alternative keys would not display when using VoiceOver with Touch Typing
  • Fixes an issue where VoiceOver rotor would always return to default action in Mail
  • Fixes an issue where VoiceOver rotor would not delete messages
  • Adds back support for accessing the app switcher by pressing on edge of display with 3D Touch
  • Fixes an issue that caused cleared Mail notifications to reappear on Lock screen
  • Fixes an issue in enterprise environments that prevented data from being moved between managed apps
  • Fixes an issue with some 3rd-party GPS accessories that caused inaccuracies in location data
  • Resolves an issue where settings for Heart Rate notifications were appearing in Apple Watch app (1st generation)
  • Fixes an issue where app icons were not appearing in notifications on Apple Watch

Apple also includes a number of important security fixes, including one for a major WiFi flaw in this update. Most users will want to install iOS 11.1 for the security updates as much as for the new emoji. 

14 Comments

  1. Jim Veilleux

    07/19/2013 at 12:14 pm

    You can also sign up for your local community emergency alert system. These may have more detail on the Amber alerts and will also send alerts on other things like chemical spills, fires, street closings, etc. Go to http://www.usnear.org to sign up for any local emergency alert service in the US.

    Reply

  2. JenD

    08/06/2013 at 6:21 am

    Got one last night about midnight. Scared me because of the loudness of it. Thought it was my home security system going off.

    Reply

  3. Jon

    08/06/2013 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for this. Hopefully in the future they’ll be able to put more information into the alert or have it take you directly to a web page for more info. I’ll check out the app for sure.

    Reply

  4. C

    08/06/2013 at 3:45 pm

    After I first saw it, it disappeared. Does it reside somewhere on the phone?

    Reply

    • Wayne

      12/01/2013 at 1:08 pm

      iPhone 5: swipe down from the top of the screen to open notifications. Choose the. “ALL” or “MISSED” tab. It should be listed.

      Reply

  5. Ang

    08/19/2013 at 9:35 am

    At&t must not have this option yet?!?! I have the iPhone4 and cant find it in my settings->notifications… there is no option for Government

    Reply

  6. Tom Hoke

    01/31/2014 at 4:53 am

    It does not make good sense to wakeup 5,000,000 people at 6 a.m. with the loud, obtrusive Amber alert signal which displays a license plate number. Am I supposed to get out of bed and go get in my car and search for a black Toyota? Go to settings and turn it off. While the idea is good, the implimentation needs to be more sensible.

    Reply

  7. Russell

    10/28/2014 at 3:05 pm

    I suspect the use of technology here might very well be extremely useful but after searching and reading 4 or 5 different pages on AMBER alerts (I just got one, first time) I’m still not entirely certain of either (a) what this cryptic information is supposed to suggest – is this car sought by police? Does it contain a criminal? A missing child? – nor (b) what I am supposed to do about it, even if I happen to see this vehicle – call 911? Call the police? Call my phone carrier?

    I can of course make some pretty reasonable assumptions regarding the answers to these questions, but shouldn’t an effort as important and as widespread as this one have some solid, detailed, easily-discoverable information about it?

    Reply

  8. Brian Cooper

    12/01/2015 at 1:57 pm

    Yeah this scared me. Child abduction? I don’t want any parts of this WTF? Its not my problem, I just blew my motor in my car, I have my own problems. What are these cops getting paid for DO YOUR JOB COP AND STAY OFF MY CELLPHONE. iF i GOT KIDNAPPED DO YOU THINK ANYONE WOULD CARE??? My car broke down last week in a really dangerous place So I called the police for help, They never showed, So you think I’m going to help you? I just found out I have been driving on a expired lisence. I was at dmv 5 days ago getting my car registerd I actually used my expired lisence for ID. and they redgesterd it anyway. Although I feel bad about a kid getting abducted. “It’s not my problem” Do your job and find the kid.
    I didn’t like that. I am not a friend of the police. Oh by the way I got a new lisence so it’s too late buddy hahaahahahahahaaha

    Reply

  9. Brian Cooper

    12/01/2015 at 2:12 pm

    If I see some lost kid, I’ll tell someone. thats all I can do.

    Reply

  10. David Bennett

    05/12/2016 at 9:36 am

    Got my first Amber Alert! Absolutely worthless. Nice idea but poor implementation. Here is how to fix:

    1) Don’t send an alert from the opposite side of the state (but if it must be so, fix 2) below:

    2) Give frickin more information! Fix the technical limitation on the number of alert characters allowed or stop the stupid system altogether because the short cryptic alert has little value to those of us who would want to help, if we could. We can’t help unless more information!

    3) Notwithstanding 2) above, at the very least allow a click on the Amber Alert to open up a webpage with specific information on that alert. Currently, absolutely ZERO, ZIP, NADA, NOTHING.

    4) Since Amber Alerts are by definition emergencies, allow the Amber Alert to temporarily (but only partially) bypass the phone’s password protection so that the idea suggested in 3) above could be automatically implemented.

    Reply

  11. Matt

    09/12/2016 at 8:42 pm

    Some of you people need to realize all lives matter and just think if it was one of your loved ones. How would you want other people to react to say oh whatever or actually keep an eye out for the amber alert that’s all they’re asking for is a little help

    Reply

  12. Realoldtimer (@oldtimer201)

    10/01/2016 at 5:23 am

    Turning off alerts on my phone DOES NOT work. I go to settings, notifications, government alerts and turn off amber and emergency alerts, I still get them..

    Reply

  13. Ed

    01/18/2017 at 4:26 am

    The article is mistaken in stating that “Do Not Disturb” mode will keep the Amber Alert from sounding.

    The Amber Alert will punch through Do Not Disturb, interrupting sleep or meetings or whatever other reason someone may have turned it on, which, in my opinion, should NOT happen.

    If the phone is in Do Not Disturb mode, the user does not wish the phone to be making noises, whether asleep, in a meeting, trying to NOT BE FOUND by someone, or some other reason.

    Amber Alerts should just be held, quietly, until Do Not Disturb is turned OFF, along with any other messages and alerts.

    If one is asleep or in a meeting, or hiding, one is not likely to be in a position to be looking for any cars or license plates, and the message can, and SHOULD, wait until the person IS, possibly, in a position to do so.

    Having Amber Alerts disturb regardless just encourages people to turn Amber Alerts off, and leave it off, as it’s otherwise an awful lot of trouble to remember to turn Amber Alerts OFF at the same time one is turning ON Do Not Disturb, and if the Do Not Disturb is scheduled, one still has to remember to turn the Amber Alerts off, and then back on, after Do Not Disturb automatically shuts off.

    Most people aren’t going to be willing to go to this much trouble, and are more likely to just turn Amber Alert off entirely and forget the whole thing after the third or so time of being awakened from a sound sleep by it.

    Reply

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