Apple's iOS 6 works with national alerts program

The recently unveiled mobile operating system will be able to receive government alerts during an emergency.

Apple

Here's an iOS 6 feature Apple didn't talk about at WWDC: the ability to receive government alerts during an emergency or disaster.

Devices running on the company's next mobile operating system, everything from the next iPhone to the iPhone 3GS and iPad 2, will be able to get wireless emergency alerts, also known as the commercial alerting system, according to the publication Emergency Management.

The system allows for the government to broadcasat emergency messages, as it's already done on television and radio. The push for alerts to appear on phones has gone on for a while, with other manufacturers already putting the feature into their phones. With iOS 6, Apple joins the fold.

Such alerts are critical for getting information out to people who aren't immediately tuned into a television or radio, and would have been helpful during disasters such as the floods from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the Sept. 11 attacks in New York.

"The stage has been set for a consistently growing number of people in the US to have capability to receive alerts from local, state, and federal officials through the initiative led by FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System program," Rick Wimberly wrote on his blog on Emergency Management.

Consumers wondering if their phones can access the emergency alert system can check with their wireless carrier, or look up "wireless emergency alerts" on carrier Web sites.

CNET has contacted Apple to confirm the feature and get more details. We'll update the story when we get a response.

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