Timely: An iPhone App That Warns You When Earthquakes Are Coming

In the wake of its tragic earthquake, Japan gets an iPhone app to alert residents to future tremors. Let's hope America's next.

In the wake of every natural disaster, people are often left uttering the same sad refrain: "If only we could have known this was going to happen." Along with luck, preparedness is the key to surviving most any disaster, even if that preparedness is hastily thrown together. When earthquakes strike, like they did in Japan earlier this year and on America's East Coast yesterday, minutes and seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Today, technology may have finally caught up with disaster victims' desire to see the future.

In Japan, which is still reeling from the earthquake and tsunami in March, Apple just released news that its new iOS 5 operating system will allow users the option of receiving early earthquake notifications on their iPhones. The warning app plugs directly into Japan's national earthquake warning system, one of the most advanced in the world, and can buy iPhone users anywhere from seconds to minutes to prepare. That's not a lot, but it's at least time enough to get out of a building or move to higher ground.

Judging by the panic in New York City and Washington, D.C. yesterday, it's obvious that many Americans would appreciate their own earthquake warning app. Let's hope Apple considers that before releasing iOS 5 to the U.S. this fall.

photo via (cc) Flickr user Official U.S. Navy Imagery