smartphoneYour smartphone can do anything. Outside of the communication tools that mobile devices have been providing for several decades now, the latest smartphones can do so much more to make your life a little easier. Sure, they still have calculators and flashlights and alarm clocks, but there are so many apps now designed to help in the most unique ways.

Want to turn your guitar? There is an app for that.

Need to make a bank deposit (but don’t want to go to the bank)? Yup, there are lots of apps for banks.

Looking for something to do on your night off? You guessed it: there is definitely an app for that.

But what if you live in an area with high risk for natural disasters? Could your smartphone help you with that?

Apparently, the answer to this question is also yes. In fact, all Japanese cell phones built after 2007 now come with a built-in earthquake alarm system.

But the app that is now available in the Americas is known as MyShake. It is only available on Android-powered devices, but those who install it will appreciate the apps ability to predict an earthquake. The app records quake-type rumblings below the surface and examines your geographical location to determine if you are likely to find yourself in the middle of an earthquake.

Of course, the app is not intended to replace for more complex—and accurate—scientific instruments, but in parts of the world where earthquakes can come on without warning leaving little time to escape, even a small inkling of one with a few minutes warning could be the difference between life and death.

App project leader and director of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, Richard Allen, says, “MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the U.S. Geological Survey.”

“But, he continues, “we think MyShake can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network, and can provide life-saving early warning in countries that have no seismic network.”

indeed, a device such as this could be quite beneficial in developing countries where no seismic networks are in place or where people don’t have access to the kinds of technology that makes it easier to prepare for something like this.

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