Scoop: Google could be bringing Air Raid Alerts to almost all Android phones [Update: Confirmed]
The current invasion of Ukraine has seen several big tech companies step up and apply varying degrees of pressure on Russia. We’ve seen Apple entirely stop selling its products in the region, we’ve seen Meta and TikTok prevent access to state-news broadcasters RT and Sputnik, and we’ve even seen Google go so far as to suspend monetization on videos within Russia. Google has also been pushing users in Ukraine to install the Ukrainian Alarm app in order to receive air raid alerts, though an APK Teardown has revealed that Google may be working on integrating those air raid alerts directly into Play Services.
Google could be integrating Air Raid Alerts in Google Play Services
From what we can see, Google has added a number of strings that relate to air raids warnings within Google Play Services v22.06.15. While we have posted the strings in English below, the strings are also present in the app in both Ukrainian and Russian locales.
<string name="arw_ealert_details_key">Air Raid Warning Details Preference Key</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_detected_text">You may get a notification when the air raid alert is issued, and another notification when the air raid alert is canceled. The Government of Ukraine provides all air raid alert information.</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_detected_title">If you are in an area where the Government of Ukraine has issued an air raid alert</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_how_it_works_body_2_text">" Keep in mind:\n"<li>There may not be an official alert for all air raids.</li>"\n"<li>You may not receive a notification every time an alert is issued or canceled.</li>"\n"<li>You should not rely on the notifications as your sole source of information.</li>"\n"</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_how_it_works_body_text">This feature uses only your device’s approximate location to send notifications about potential air raids. Google does not use this location information to track or identify you.</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_how_it_works_title">How it works</string>\n<string name="arw_ealert_settings_switch_key">Air Raid Alerts Main Switch Key</string>\n<string name="arw_location_settings_ealert_activity_label">Сповіщення про повітряні тривоги в Україні</string>\n<string name="arw_location_settings_ealert_activity_label_en">Ukraine air raid alerts</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_alert_text" formatted="false">"The Government of Ukraine issued an alert for %s at %s. Take shelter immediately. Tap to change settings."</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_alert_title">Air raid alert</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_all_clear_text" formatted="false">"The Government of Ukraine canceled the alert for %s at %s. Tap to change settings."</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_all_clear_title">Air raid alert canceled</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_header">Government of Ukraine alert</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_high_importance_channel_name">Air Raid Alerts</string>\n<string name="arw_notification_low_importance_channel_name">Air Raid All Clear</string>
The benefit of making this functionality a part of Google Play Services means that the vast majority of Android users should actually be able to receive alerts on their phones, even without the app. That’s because Play Services is baked into pretty much every Android smartphone. It will save users from needing to install an entirely separate app, which may prove useful to those who may not use their phones as much, may not have seen the Ukrainian Alarm on the Google Play Store, or may not be tech-savvy.
Of course, none of this means that Google will definitely roll it out for users. It’s clearly just being tested right now, but even still, it could be a feature that may save lives if a user who did not use the Ukrainian Alarm app gets notified of an incoming air raid thanks to Play Services. The nature of an APK Teardown is that sometimes, we uncover unreleased features, and those unreleased features don’t always make it to people’s devices.
We have reached out to Google for comments and will update this post if we hear back.
Update: Google confirms that users in Ukraine will get Air Raid Alerts via Google Play Services
Google has confirmed that “at the request, and with the help, of the government of Ukraine”, Android smartphone owners will be receiving Air Raid Alerts via Google Play Services. The system leverages Google’s latency alert mechanism that it built for earthquake alerts. The air raid system is supplemental to and shares the same triggers used for the country’s existing air raid alert systems. The company has also said that it will be rolled out to all Ukrainian Android smartphone owners “over the next few days”.