Updated Oct 25, 2022 - Technology

Android users alerted just before California earthquake

Screenshot of MyShake app

Screenshot: MyShake

While many people in California felt a moderate earthquake Tuesday, some smartphone users actually got a heads-up before it happened thanks to technology developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Why it matters: Android warned users just a few seconds before the quake, but experts hope the technology will eventually give people enough time to find shelter or to duck and cover.

How it works: Researchers at Berkeley released an app called MyShake that can offer a brief earthquake warning by detecting the signals of an earthquake just before they are felt. Think of it like how you can see lightning before you hear thunder.

  • The app works on both iPhone and Android, but Google announced in 2020 it would implement Berkeley's technology directly into Android, allowing far more people to benefit.

As often happens after an earthquake, people turned to Twitter after the Magnitude 5.1 quake. But some reported getting the alert first.

  • "Got the earthquake alert on my Android phone a few seconds before I felt it," Google's Dieter Bohn said in a tweet.
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai also tweeted about getting the alert.
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