Apple’s iPhone 14 has a unique feature that allows users to contact emergency services via satellite when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. This feature, called Emergency SOS via Satellite, was introduced last year in collaboration with Globalstar, a satellite communications company. Now, Globalstar has partnered with SpaceX, the space exploration company led by Elon Musk, to launch more satellites that will enhance this service and expand its coverage.
How Emergency SOS via Satellite works
Emergency SOS via Satellite is available on all iPhone 14 models, including iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The feature uses a combination of custom-designed components and software to connect directly to Globalstar’s satellites. Users can access the feature by pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Then, they can slide the SOS button to initiate a satellite call or text message to emergency services.
The feature also allows users to share their location with friends and family via the Find My app when they are traveling in remote areas. Users can choose to share their location for a specific duration or indefinitely. This can provide some peace of mind to both the users and their loved ones.
Emergency SOS via Satellite is currently available in several countries, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Apple plans to extend the service to more countries in the future.
Why Globalstar and SpaceX are teaming up
Globalstar is the satellite provider that enables Emergency SOS via Satellite for Apple’s iPhones. The company has a network of low-Earth orbit satellites that provide voice and data services to customers around the world. Globalstar has agreed to allocate 85% of its current and future network capacity to Apple’s iPhones.
To maintain and improve its satellite network, Globalstar needs to launch new satellites periodically. This is where SpaceX comes in. SpaceX is a leading company in the space industry that offers reusable rockets and spacecraft for various missions. SpaceX has already worked with Globalstar before, launching a satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last year.
According to a report by NOLA.com, Globalstar and SpaceX have struck a deal worth $64 million to launch more satellites into space in 2025. This deal was confirmed through an official filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These satellites will be used to update the communication network for Emergency SOS via Satellite and potentially reach more users in areas without cellular coverage.
What this means for Apple users
The partnership between Globalstar and SpaceX is not only good for them but also great news for Apple users. The iPhone 14 (and soon the upcoming iPhone 15) relies on Globalstar’s satellites to make Emergency SOS via Satellite work. Thanks to this new partnership, the service could soon expand to even more places and provide better connectivity.
Emergency SOS via Satellite is a groundbreaking safety service that can save lives in emergency situations. It can also offer convenience and security for travelers who want to stay connected with their loved ones. Apple has invested $450 million in Globalstar last year to make this service possible.
Apple has also shown interest in exploring other possibilities for satellites. Last year, Apple got a patent that hinted at sending all sorts of data through satellites, like streaming videos, TV data, phone calls, and internet data. Having a patent doesn’t mean Apple will definitely do these things, but it does show they are thinking about it. So, who knows what cool satellite features might come to future iPhones.