Interaction between Android and Microsoft Teams is preventing some users calling 911 [Updated with Microsoft response]

911 call

Google has confirmed a bug that is stopping some people making 911 calls from their Android phones. The company says that emergency calls are not possible only in very specific scenarios.

The bug is, however, rather worrying, and Google has blamed it on an "unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system". A fix is in the works and will be available early next year.; in the meantime, though, Google has some important advice to share. Microsoft has also contacted us to issue a statement.

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UPDATE

Microsoft has issued a statement about this issue, stressing that the problem, fundamentally, is Google's. A Microsoft spokesperson says::

We are aware of Google's plans to roll-out an Android platform update in January. We are working on an update to our own application to avoid triggering the underlying Android operating system issue. We are collaborating closely with Google to resolve this unintended interaction.

Google started to investigate the issue after an Android user wrote a complaint on Reddit a couple of weeks ago. Redditor KitchenPicture5849 reported being unable to use their Pixel phone to call 911 for an ambulance.

After conducting an investigation, Google says that it has been able to reproduce the problem, but only in "a limited set of circumstances". That the problem is not more widespread is clearly good news, but it is of little comfort if you find that you meet all of the problematic criteria in an emergency.

Microsoft is said to be releasing an update for Teams "soon", but there are questions to be answered about how an app has been able to interfere with Android in such a fundamental way as to block calls that could be a matter of life and death. Google is also releasing an update for Android in the New Year as it explains in a response to the original complaint.

The company's Reddit post reads:

Based on our investigation we have been able to reproduce the issue under a limited set of circumstances. We believe the issue is only present on a small number of devices with the Microsoft Teams app installed when the user is not logged in, and we are currently only aware of one user report related to the occurrence of this bug. We determined that the issue was being caused by unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system. Because this issue impacts emergency calling, both Google and Microsoft are heavily prioritizing the issue, and we expect a Microsoft Teams app update to be rolled out soon -- as always we suggest users keep an eye out for app updates to ensure they are running the latest version. We will also be providing an Android platform update to the Android ecosystem on January 4.

The company goes on to say: "Out of an abundance of caution, in the meantime, we suggest users with Microsoft Teams installed on any Android device running Android 10 and above take the following steps":

  • If you are unsure what Android version you are on, confirm you are running Android 10 or above by following the steps here. If you are not running Android 10 or above, you are not impacted by this issue.
  • If you have the Microsoft Teams app downloaded, check to see if you are signed in. If you have been signed in, you are not impacted by this issue, and we suggest you remain signed in until you’ve received the Microsoft Teams app update.
  • If you have the Microsoft Teams app downloaded, but are not signed in, uninstall and reinstall the app. While this will address the problem in the interim, a Microsoft Teams app update is still required to fully resolve the issue.
  • We advise users to keep an eye out for an update to the Microsoft Teams app, and ensure it is applied as soon as available. We will update this post once the new version of Microsoft Teams is available to 100 percent of users.

Google concludes: "We take issues like this extremely seriously, and want to thank u/KitchenPicture5849 for bringing it to our attention".

Image credit: McLittle Stock / Shutterstock

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