Use iOS 17’s Check In Feature to Reduce Worry | Computer Hardware

Use iOS 17’s Check In Feature to Reduce Worry | Computer Hardware

We've all had a friend or family member say, “Text me when you get home,” because they want the peace of mind knowing you've arrived safely. But what if something goes wrong—or you forget—and they never get that text? They will be confused and won't know where you are, if you are okay, etc.

In iOS 17, Apple introduced a check-in feature to provide peace of mind — or, in the worst case, to help emergency services. It's conceptually simple. Before you set out to go somewhere, you check in with someone in Messages—they're called a Safety Partner. You specify where you're going and whether you're driving, taking transit, or walking. Then, when you arrive, check-in ends automatically, alerting your security partner that you've arrived. If you experience a delay en route, check-in takes this into account and extends the estimated arrival time accordingly. If you fail to arrive, check-in shares your location and route with your security partner. Also, if you make an emergency SOS call or your iPhone or Apple Watch automatically calls emergency services during check-in, it notifies your security partner.

Not all situations revolve around a location-specific path, so check-in also supports timers. Perhaps a college student is going for an hour-long trail ride and wants a friend to check on her to make sure she doesn't come back as expected. She can use the check-in to set a timer for 1 hour, share it with her friend, and when the timer runs out, tap either the end button if she returns or if the run is successful. Add more time if it's working but taking longer than expected.

While check-in may be aimed at friends and family, it can also have business uses. For example, a destination check-in might work well to keep track of a colleague traveling for a make-or-break pitch presentation.

Before you start using a check-in with someone—in any direction—explain the check-in to them and discuss the appropriate response if you or they fail to successfully complete the check-in. . Responses should probably start with a quick text, followed by a phone call. If initial efforts to reach out are met with silence, reaching out to other people—friends, family members, neighbors, etc.—may be appropriate. At some point, depending on a variety of factors, it will be time to call law enforcement. Of course, if another person activates Emergency SOS during check-in, call law enforcement immediately. At least in America, Do not call 911 if the person is not in your area.. Instead, find the law enforcement website where the person is located and call the organization's 10-digit number. And here's hoping it never comes!

Create a check-in

To get started with check-in, follow these steps:

  1. In Messages, open a conversation with the person you want to be your safety buddy (check-in doesn't currently work with group conversations).
  2. Tap the ⊕ button to the left of the message field, tap More at the bottom, and tap Check in.
  3. The first time you request a check-in, Messages takes you through a series of explanatory screens, one of which is important—the privacy of data shared with your security partner if you don't arrive. The level of Select Full — We can see almost no reason why you wouldn't want that person to be able to share your exact location and route with emergency services if something goes wrong. (If necessary, change this setting later in Settings > Messages > Data.)
  4. Upon subsequent use of the check-in, an unsent card appears in the Messages conversation, usually set for one hour in the future. The card is not sent automatically so you can customize it before sending it.
  5. Tap the edit button to adjust the timer or destination.
  6. To change the timer duration, use the time picker and tap Done. Go to the last step of this list.
  7. To set a destination instead of a timer, tap “When I arrive” at the top of the screen.
  8. Tap the Change button, and in the map, either search for a location or search manually by pinching and zooming — touch and hold the map to drop a destination pin. At the bottom of the screen, select Small, Medium, or Large to set the size of the area you'll reach.
  9. Tap Done to close the map and then select Driving, Transit, or Walking so that check-in can estimate your arrival time based on your mode of transportation.
  10. If you want extra buffer time, tap Add Time and give yourself 15, 30, or 60 minutes after check-in thinks you'll arrive. This should not usually be necessary.
  11. Tap Done.
  12. Once you return to the check-in card in the Messages conversation, tap the Send button to start the check-in.

Note that security partners cannot reject check-in cards.

Finish a check-in.

Once you trigger a check-in, it can end up in a few ways. First, you can cancel the timer before it completes or before you reach your destination. Second, it can end successfully when you tap End when the timer expires or when you reach your specified location. Third and finally, check-in has a primary purpose, which is to alert your security partner if you fail to respond to a timer or where and when you said you would.

  • Cancel it: To cancel a check-in, tap the Details button on the check-in card in Messages, tap Cancel Check-in, and agree that you don't want to notify your security partner. Timer and destination check-ins look slightly different but work similarly. Your security partner will only see messages saying the check-in card has expired.
  • Finished successfully: For the timer check-in to complete successfully, you must respond when the iPhone prompts you (bottom left). When this happens all your security partner sees is a note on the check-in card that the timer has expired (bottom right). You don't need to interact with your iPhone for it to finish successfully. The security partner's check-in card updates that you've arrived.
  • Failed to complete check-in (initial): If you don't reach your destination or fail to tap End when prompted, Check-In gives you the option to add time (bottom left) but after 15 minutes, tells you that it has has alerted the security partner (center and bottom right).
  • Failed to complete check-in (security partner): More interesting is what your security partner sees if you fail to complete check-in. They'll be alerted and can tap Details to see your location, when your device was last unlocked, etc. Then they have to figure out the best way to respond given your setup conversation.

It can take some practice to become fluid with check-in, so it's worth testing it in everyday situations before using it when it really matters. Once you use it a few times, you may find that Siri suggestions offer to start it for you, making it even easier to start it regularly. We hope you find it provides peace of mind and, in the worst case scenario, helps someone in need of emergency services.

(Featured Image by iStock.com/PeopleImages)

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