We’ve been speculating for months (here, here, and here) about whether the new Apple mobile operating system, iOS 6, will be capable of receiving Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) messages, also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Well, as our friends at the Alerts and Notifications blog wrote this weekend, iPhone 5s and other iPhones that upgrade to the new OS will receive these messages.
Well, some will receive them, at least.
MacWorld posted a comprehensive review of iOS features last week, in which they spotted the alerts, grouped in a menu called “Government Alerts”. At the same time, only some devices on particular carriers and in particular geographic areas appear to have this capability:
Some users [of iOS 6] also get new settings in the Notifications screen—at the bottom, grouped under Government Alerts—for enabling or disabling AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts. In our testing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sprint and Verizon users see these settings, while AT&T users do not. However, the availability of these settings also appear to depend on your location: Responses to an informal poll of Twitter users indicate that Verizon users in some parts of the country get the settings, but those in other locations do not.
So it seems that not all carriers have rolled out the “Government Alerts” to their iPhones nationwide. And the Alerts and Notifications blog points out, this is consistent with the phased roll-out of CMAS/WEA across different carriers and regions of the country.
As we have said before, the deployment of CMAS/WEA capability to iPhones means that millions more devices will be able to receive these alerts across the country. Apple has received at least 2 million orders for the iPhone 5. Adding these to the millions of existing iPhones that will upgrade to the new operating system, and you have a vast new portion of American smartphone users that will be receiving CMAS/WEA messages.
Word is getting out about this new capability for Apple devices, as evidenced by the questions about its availability. We will continue looking for more information on when iPhone users on different carriers can expect to see this new feature.