Gadgets & apps

This article was published on December 9, 2021

Android users can’t dial 911 because of… Microsoft Teams? (Updated)

Modern tech means that a phone can fail at being a phone


Android users can’t dial 911 because of… Microsoft Teams? (Updated)
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Update (January 6, 2022): Google has issued the January security patch for Android, which has a fix for this bug

I’m not gonna sit here and decry current technology, quite the opposite. To this very day, there’s something magical about smartphones. I can use them to watch movies, make music, work… anything, really.

Despite this, I — a caveman — still expect my pocket rectangle to do one basic thing: be a phone.

Greetings, tech nerd!

Are you into gadgets? And apps? And other cool tech stuff? Then this weekly newsletter is for you.

And this means doing things like calling 911. Normally, this isn’t an issue, but it could be now. If you’re on Android. And have Microsoft Teams installed. And aren’t logged into the app.

Yes, friends, last week a Reddit user shared an issue with contacting the American emergency services. Specifically, they used a Pixel 3 running Android 11 on Verizon.

Without going into too much detail (you can read the full saga here), the user dialled 911 following a call with their mother. After one ring, their phone stuck and they were unable to “do anything other than click through apps with an emergency phone call running in the background.”

Now, Google has confirmed the existence of the bug and responded to this issue.

In its statement (posted on Reddit, of course), the company pointed to the two aforementioned reasons for this issue:

  • The user has Microsoft Teams downloaded
  • And they are not logged in

Google stated that it is working with Microsoft to fix the issue. But if you’re worried about it now? Make sure you “uninstall and reinstall” Microsoft Teams. I’m sure that’s very reassuring for everyone to hear.

microsoft teams
Those little people? In the Microsoft Teams logo? They want to watch the world burn.

Honestly? This is a shitshow.

As I mentioned at the start of the piece, modern smartphones are magical. The reason for this is they’re also mind-bendingly complex. It’s almost impossible for any single person to understand all the intricacies of current mobile operating systems. Saying this, making calls — especially to emergency services — must be foundational.

In other words, this fuck up shouldn’t be possible. But it is. And it happened.

The more I think about it, the more fitting this failure is. Tech has become so advanced, and our devices so integral to how we live, that we’re forgetting what hardware was specifically made for.

So welcome to the modern world, a place where your phone can fail at being a phone.

Get the Plugged newsletter

Subscribe to our snarky newsletter all about consumer tech.

Also tagged with


Published
Back to top