I love riding motorcycles, but not as much as I love my family. I’m sure many of you that ride can relate when I tell you how much I love riding my 2022 Livewire One around New York City – and how much my loved ones hate it. So when my new iPhone 14 Pro Max erroneously texted my mom, my girlfriend, and several close friends, telling them I’d been in a terrible accident, it certainly didn’t help.
As an Apple fanboy and the co-founder of a tech company, you better believe I picked up the new iPhone 14 Pro Max on Friday, the first day it came out. I normally use a Peak Design case and mount for my motorcycles, cars, and bicycles. They make a superior mounting solution that works on all of my random adventures. Unfortunately, Peak Design didn’t have a proper new case for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. As an alternative, the company offered an adhesive mount to use on the back of the phone’s regular case in the meantime.
The following day, my buddies Tim, Chris, and I went out on a motorcycle day trip out of NYC via Manhattan’s West Side Highway. As we were cruising at around 60 miles per hour, I hit a big bump and my phone flew off its handlebar mount. My Cardo bluetooth helmet speakers announced “your phone has been disconnected” and my music stopped playing as I looked down to see no phone on my handlebars. I should have known better. Normally, a Peak Design case is incredible in every situation, but I suspected that adhesive mount would be iffy. Goodbye one-day-old phone! There was no way I could run around the busy highway to find my phone. At least everything was backed up on the cloud.
My buddies and I went to the nearest Apple store to buy a cheap iPhone SE to use while I dealt with Apple Care to replace my brand-new phone. As I’m standing in the Apple Store, my friend Tim Harney, a natural comedian, walks in and tells me my entire family thinks I was in a horrible accident. I thought he was joking, but what he said was true. My lovely and supportive girlfriend had dropped everything and was driving from four hours away to come find me; she, my brother, and my mom were calling all the New York City hospitals looking for my body.
Thanks to the new crash detection feature in the iPhone 14, my phone apparently texted everyone listed as “family” in my contacts, telling them I was in a vehicle accident. The phone even called the police – all because it sensed itself tumbling off my handlebars and thought I had crashed my motorcycle.
After securing my new temporary phone, I immediately called everyone to let them know I was alive and safe. My poor sweet family was in tears, thinking I’d crashed my bike horrifically. As you can imagine, this made me sick to my stomach hearing them all in such distress. And I had only been out of touch for 45 minutes!
It was good to know that crash detection really works, and that my family really loves me after all. But I hate how this harmless mishap scared them. I had no idea. I remember riding to the Apple store, playing out in my head how my family would laugh at me for destroying my new iPhone 14 in less than 24 hours. Little did I know I was unintentionally causing them borderline emotional trauma at that very moment.
After settling back home at the end of the day, I checked Apple’s “Find My iPhone” app. Apparently someone had found and retrieved my phone from the side of the highway, because the app showed the phone alive and active, sitting in someone’s residence in the Bronx, 40 minutes away from where I’d dropped it. I used the app to set my phone to “lost mode,” which locks the phone and displays a call back number on the screen. But after 24 hours, nobody was calling me back.
I debated my options and figured I would try my luck, drive over, and ask nicely about my phone. It was in my favor that the address showed an individual home on a residential street, not a huge apartment building where I would have no luck finding my phone.
I anxiously took the 40-minute drive across town and pulled up in front of the address, a nice suburban-looking home. I knocked on the door and a young man answered. As I told him my story, he called his dad, a city worker, who informed me he had found my phone soon after I lost it – just as it was getting run over. The smashed screen made it impossible for him to see the call-back number to contact me, so the gentleman just put the phone in his kitchen drawer until he figured out what to do with it.
I gave my hero a cash reward and took my phone to an Apple store. It was actually in decent shape, considering it was dropped on the highway at 60 mph and run over. The body of the phone was pretty intact, thanks to my temporary phone case, but the front screen was shattered and almost impossible to use. The Apple genius bar initially told me they could repair the phone, but a manager later informed me that, in fact, they had no replacement parts or training to fix an iPhone 14 Pro Max. The store gave me a replacement phone for a $29 deductible.
This iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra crash detection feature is great, especially for someone like me, who regularly drives fast cars and motorcycles on and off the track. But clearly, the technology needs work. It scared my loved ones nearly to death when I was completely fine – and worse, I had no idea anybody had received this terrifying message. Wouldn’t you think you’d get a notification on your Apple Watch, allowing you to dismiss the crash alert before it gives your whole family a collective heart attack?
I’m grateful that this crash-detection technology exists, and I’m sure Apple put a ton of time, effort and thought into engineering it. I know false-alarms like mine will be rare, and the potential life-saving benefit far outweighs the inconvenience of my particular situation. But there has to be a better way to distinguish genuine crashes from phone-smashing mishaps. One thing is clear: I’m buying a more robust phone mount before I ever take another ride on the West Side Highway.
Douglas Sonders is a producer in the advertising and immersive tech spaces. He’s spent decades telling award-winning stories of brands and automakers through photography, film and immersive experiences. He currently owns and tinkers on a 2008 GX470 overland build, a 1990 Porsche 911 C4 Widebody Safari 911, and a 2022 Livewire One.