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iOS 5 gets Japan earthquake notifications

Users of the Apple mobile operating system in Japan will receive early notifications from their devices if an earthquake strikes the country.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Apple has brought support for Japan's earthquake notification service to iOS 5 beta, 9to5Mac is reporting.

According to the blog, Japanese iOS users will be able to turn the notification system on from their mobile devices. If an earthquake hits, users will be alerted with a notification giving them information on the earthquake.

Japan launched its notification system in 2007. When tremors or earthquakes are measured, the service sends notifications out through an online system. As more information is gathered, including the earthquake's epicenter, that data is also pushed out.

The notification system is a key part of Japan's emergency response service, since the country is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. In March, Japan fell victim to a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the damage from which was made significantly worse by tsunamis that it unleashed.

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Immediately following the earthquake, the communications systems across Japan were in a state of disarray. Early reports suggested cell networks were locked up due to overwhelming use, causing many folks to turn to Facebook and Twitter to check on loved ones and get more information.

However, through it all, the country's notification system held up. Time magazine profiled the event earlier this year, saying that it took just seconds for the service to alert factories, schools, and citizens' mobile phones that an earthquake had hit.

With support for the notification system in iOS 5, Apple's iPhone will finally join the many other mobile devices in Japan that support the service. Previously, iPhone owners were required to download third-party applications to have access to the notification system.

Whether similar notification systems will be offered by Apple elsewhere around the world is unknown at this point.

Apple is expected to launch iOS 5 to the public in September.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.