Apple Launches iPhone Emergency SOS Via Satellite
Apple has launched a new space-powered emergency service for iPhone users.
Even in remote areas without phone service, users can contact the emergency services by connecting to nearby satellites.
When an emergency call fails, users will have the option to send an ‘Emergency Text via Satellite’. Their phone will then display on-screen prompts and questions like “what’s your emergency?”, to which they can select responses such as “car or vehicle issue” or “sickness or injury”. After this will follow more in-depth questions about their situation, getting them the help they need ASAP. If you’ve set up your medical ID in your iPhone’s health settings, this information will also be available to the emergency services.
To connect to a nearby satellite, your phone will tell you to point it at the sky and guide you towards the closest satellite. You will need a clear view of the sky, free of trees and other obstructions – without this, it could take upwards of 15 seconds to a minute for the text to go through. Due to the speed at which satellites travel, you’ll need to move your phone to stay connected throughout the conversation.
If the emergency services cannot be contacted via text from a location, the message will be redirected to a relay center where Apple-trained specialists will make the call for you.
“Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage. With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can get users the help they need while they are off the grid,” commented Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “Our teams worked tirelessly to tackle a new set of technical challenges to bring this service to life, in addition to building a reliable on-the-ground infrastructure. Emergency SOS via satellite is a breakthrough service available only on the iPhone 14 lineup, and a new innovation that we hope will provide our customers some peace of mind.”
The service is already available for iPhone 14 users in the US and Canada, soon to be extended to the UK, France, Germany and Ireland in December 2022.
Apple has invested $450 million in the vital infrastructure supporting the service, available for the latest iPhone 14 model. A large portion of the funding goes to Globalstar, a Louisiana-based global satellite service.
Emergencies can happen anywhere, any time, with or without phone service. Powered by satellites networks and ground stations, this cutting-edge service is a perfect example of ways the space sector is making the world safer place. Apple’s innovative system will undoubtedly save multiple lives in the coming months and years. Will other companies follow in their footsteps to provide their own version of this service? Watch this space to find out.