One of the lesser-known perks of Pixel ownership is the Personal Safety app, which controls car crash detection and the Safety Check feature, alerting specific contacts with your phone's location if you fail to check in, or calling emergency services if you get into a wreck. It's a great and pretty unique app, but Google's subtly changing how it works at a technical level, adjusting which app it gets permissions from to provide that functionality. If you want to keep using it, you'll need to adjust your location permissions by September 15th to maintain full functionality.

Previously, Safety Check actually used the location permission in the Google Maps app for its Emergency Sharing and Safety Check feature. It's not clear why Google's changing how the permissions structure for this feature works, though consolidating the permission into the app you associate with the feature does make more sense from a user standpoint (and may end up being significant from a regulatory standpoint, too). Whatever the cause, Google has explained that the Personal Safety app will be compatible with the change in permissions as of a couple of days ago and will maintain compatibility with both permission avenues until September 15th, when the change becomes required.

If you don't adjust the permissions by then, Emergency Sharing and Safety Check will lose full functionality until you accept the new permissions.

Google says that the Personal Safety app should prompt you to grant access to the required permissions once you try to use it again, but on the off-chance that doesn't happen, you can also grant it manually relatively easily.

  • Find Safety in the app drawer on your Pixel and long-press it, selecting "app info."
    • Alternatively, you can access this through Settings -> Apps -> "see all ## apps" -> Personal Safety.
  • Tap Permissions.
  • Tap Location.
  • Either tap "allow only while using the app" or "allow all the time," as you prefer. (Google's documentation says that "while using the app" should work fine, if you're worried.) Enable "use precise location."

If you have a Pixel but haven't used the Personal Safety app or its Safety Check feature, I recommend you give it a shot. Car crash detection alone could save your life, but I've found Safety Check to be pretty handy even when just going for a hike in the woods. On the off-chance something does happen, and I get injured out there, folks will know where I am and can either send help or come looking for me on their own, and you can use it for all sorts of other situations as well where you might want to check in with someone after doing something potentially sketchy.