Apple's iPhone gets Japanese earthquake alert

Screen grab from Japanese iPhone The option to receive earthquake alerts will appear on Japanese iPhones

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Japanese iPhone users will get the option to receive earthquake alerts under the next version of Apple's iOS operating system.

9to5Mac reports that the feature will be added to the device's notification centre in iOS 5, which is expected to be released in September.

Japan has a sophisticated early warning system which collects readings from more than 1,000 seismic sensors.

More than 16,000 people died in the 2011 quake and subsequent tsunami.

Earthquake warnings are typically issued through radio, television and text message under the Area Mail Disaster Information Service.

For SMS, the system works by sending out a mass cell broadcast (SMS-CB) to all handsets in a designated area.

3G cellphones are compelled by Japanese law to include SMS-CB technology. However, many foreign-made phones do not currently support it.

The message accompanying Apple's new feature reads: "The earthquake early warning/alert. When the setting is on, your battery life may be reduced."

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs sent an email to Japanese employees immediately after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami offering help and support if they or their families were affected by the disaster.

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