Tech News : Teams App Blocked Emergency Call

It was recently discovered that a bug in the Pixel 3 phone meant that users who had the Teams app installed (even though they weren’t logged in) couldn’t call the US emergency 911 number.

What Happened?

A Reddit user reported that they had needed to call an ambulance for their grandmother who appeared to be having a stroke. The user dialled 911 just by typing and calling on their pixel 3 phone, only to find that the phone “got stuck” after one ring. The user reported that they were unable to do anything other than click through apps with an emergency phone call running in the background. Consequently, they were unable to tell the person on the other end which apartment they were in, or what the emergency was. The user also reported that the fault meant that there was no response from emergency vehicles, no evidence that 911 had been called (from a phone log perspective) and the user’s Verizon phone log showed no evidence that a 911 call had been made.

Google Confirmed The Fault Was Related To Teams App

Google later answered the user’s post on Reddit, saying that it had determined that the issue was caused by unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system, specifically for those running Android 10 or above. Google said that it expected a Microsoft Teams app update to be rolled out soon, and that it would also be providing an Android platform update on January 4. Google has also advised Pixel phone users to keep an eye out for Teams app updates and to ensure they are running the latest version.

What To Do

Google suggests that in order to avoid falling victim to the fault in the meantime, users with Microsoft Teams installed on any Android device running Android 10 and above could take the following steps:

– Check whether you are running Android 10 or above. Those not running Android 10 or above will not be impacted by the issue.

– Check to make sure that you are signed-in to your Teams app because the issue only occurs if the user is not signed in.

– Those who have the Microsoft Teams app downloaded, but are not signed in, should uninstall, and reinstall the app. This will address the problem in the interim, however a Microsoft Teams app update will also be required to fully resolve the issue.

– Keep an eye out for an update to the Microsoft Teams app, and ensure it is applied as soon as available.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This story illustrates how the simple act of being able to make a phone call (on what is primarily a phone) can be prevented by aspects of the other tech and apps that are installed. It raises particular concerns because it relates to stopping an important 911 call. The positive aspects of the story are that the fault was brought to light and has been taken very seriously and acted upon quickly by both Microsoft and Google. This is good news for users and created a positive angle for what was potentially a very damaging story for Google and Microsoft. It also shows the value of thoroughly testing apps and the value of maintaining updates.

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