updated 03:22 pm EDT, Thu June 28, 2012
National Weather Service to send 90-character warnings to smartphones
The US National Weather Servicewill soon start sending severe weather warnings to smartphone owners in potentially dangerous situations. The Wireless Emergency Alerts system will send warning messages to those at risk of flooding, hurricanes, dust storms and blizzards via compatible smartphones, complete with a special warning tone and vibration reserved for the message.
Amy Storey, a spokeswoman for the CTIA, claims that the alerts "will make sure people are aware of any impending danger and provide them with the information needed so they can be safe until the threat is over." They will form part of a broader effort launched by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in April, with the aim of sending public safety warnings from state and local governments in the event of an emergency.
The alerts -- from which people can opt out -- will be at most 90 characters long. Although potentially life-saving, the system will be limited in terms of regional coverage, as well as which phones can receive messages. The iPhone should join the system in the fall, though it's not clear if this will require a new model, or if older models will be capable after a software update. [via Yahoo]