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Skype now lets you make 911 calls in the US

It’s still limited in scope

skype logo against blue background
Image: Skype

Skype users in the US can now use the instant messaging platform to make 911 emergency calls. So if you’re in need of emergency services and don’t have access to a nearby phone, you can use Skype as an alternative.

Before this, only users in Australia, Denmark, Finland, and the UK could use Skype for emergency calls. As with most internet services, it comes with a couple of limitations that Skype wants to make sure you know about.

For starters, the biggest one is on the “Notice & Disclosures” page when enabling location sharing. Skype needs you to know that it’s not a traditional phone call.

Making emergency calls out of your “home region” could cause issues. As a result, your call might get routed to a call center inside your home region; which might delay getting help.

To ensure the 911 feature works correctly, you’ll want to enable location sharing inside Skype:

  • Open Skype and select your profile picture
  • Go into Settings and then into the Privacy menu
  • Enable 911 emergency location sharing, including acknowledging Notices & Disclosures and the Special 911 Warning of Limitations & Unavailability.
  • Skype also wants you to know you can disable 911 emergency location sharing whenever you want, but your location won’t be automatically shared with emergency services.

Additionally, Skype also wants you to know that any problems with Skype, the internet, or power could all mean getting cut off during an emergency call. In some of those situations, a traditional phone line might still work.

Along with the ability to call 911 in the US, the latest update to Skype also increases the recording time for voice messages to five minutes, up from the previous limit of two minutes.

Other quality of life improvements include the ability to zoom while you’re sharing your screen, and custom reactions on mobile. Oh, and they fixed an annoying bug on iPhones that played a ringing sound while calls were in progress.

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