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Pixel users: a new Android bug makes it impossible to call 911

If you’re a Pixel user, you need to read this.

google pixel and charger
Image: Unsplash

Currently, there is a bug in Android 10 or newer that makes it impossible to call 911 when triggered. First reported on the Google Pixel subreddit just over a week ago, the dangerous Android bug has been investigated by Google and a fix is coming. Until the fix is in, there is a temporary workaround.

Redditor u/KitchenPicture5849 tells a harrowing tale of being unable to call emergency services when their grandmother appeared to be suffering a stroke. Thankfully, their grandma had a landline, but what if they hadn’t?

Google has investigated, and figured out the root cause – and it will leave you scratching your head in disbelief. The issue? If you have the Microsoft Teams app installed, but not logged in, it can block your ability to call 911. If that isn’t a perfect reason to delete Microsoft Teams, I don’t know what is.

google pixel issues with 911
Screenshot: KnowTechie

Google also thinks this only affects Pixel devices, but cautions it could also affect any phone running Android 10 or newer.

Google has some tips to prevent you from experiencing this bug; until they can roll out a fix in January. Basically, either stay signed into Microsoft Teams at all times; or delete the app until both Android and Microsoft Teams get an update. Via Reddit:

Based on our investigation we have been able to reproduce the issue under a limited set of circumstances. We believe the issue is only present on a small number of devices with the Microsoft Teams app installed when the user is not logged in, and we are currently only aware of one user report related to the occurrence of this bug.

We determined that the issue was being caused by unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system. Because this issue impacts emergency calling, both Google and Microsoft are heavily prioritizing the issue, and we expect a Microsoft Teams app update to be rolled out soon – as always we suggest users keep an eye out for app updates to ensure they are running the latest version. We will also be providing an Android platform update to the Android ecosystem on January 4.

Out of an abundance of caution, in the meantime, we suggest users with Microsoft Teams installed on any Android device running Android 10 and above take the following steps:

– If you are unsure what Android version you are on, confirm you are running Android 10 or above by following the steps here. If you are not running Android 10 or above, you are not impacted by this issue.

If you have the Microsoft Teams app downloaded, check to see if you are signed in. If you have been signed in, you are not impacted by this issue, and we suggest you remain signed in until you’ve received the Microsoft Teams app update.

If you have the Microsoft Teams app downloaded, but are not signed in, uninstall and reinstall the app. While this will address the problem in the interim, a Microsoft Teams app update is still required to fully resolve the issue.

– We advise users to keep an eye out for an update to the Microsoft Teams app, and ensure it is applied as soon as available. We will update this post once the new version of Microsoft Teams is available to 100% of users.

We take issues like this extremely seriously, and want to thank u/KitchenPicture5849 for bringing it to our attention.

While that will fix the issue in the interim, it’s unbelievable that this is even an issue. Your phone dialer should be a core part of the Android operating system.

No app, and I mean no app, should be able to interfere with calling emergency services. We hope that Google introduces safeguards in the future so that other apps that may handle calls can’t block essential services.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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