Skype announced this week that its US users can use it to call 911 from their home computers, and the software can share their location with emergency services if needed. The US is the latest addition to the list of regions where Skype emergency services call; until now it was only available in Australia, Denmark, Finland and the UK.
Skype’s move to enable 911 calls has some limitations, but can be crucial for users who still have an adequate internet connection when they lose access to a cell phone or landline in an emergency.
In a “Notice & Disclosures” warning that appears before you sign up for location sharing, Skype warns that the service does not work the same as a traditional phone call. Users are encouraged not to make an emergency Skype call when they are outside their home region as the call may be diverted elsewhere. It also makes it clear that a Skype outage, internet problems or power outages in the area could cut calls in situations where a traditional phone would still work.
In addition to calling 911 with Skype 8.80, users can now leave a five-minute voice message instead of finishing two minutes. Users will also notice the choice of light or dark mode while on a call, send custom responses, and have the ability to zoom in or out when sharing their screen.