Future iPhones Could Feature Satellite Connectivity for Emergency Situations

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 31 Aug 2021

iPhone 13 mini concept

A new report from Bloomberg has further shed light on the rumored satellite connectivity coming to the iPhone 13 series. The report details that Apple intends to bring satellite connectivity to future iPhones and what it will be used for. The feature will be meant for use in emergencies where users can send text messages or call first responders when outside of cellular coverage.

At the beginning of this week, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that iPhone 13 would feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity and work with the spectrum owned by Globalstar. However, a lot of what the analyst meant was lost in translation.

Bloomberg’s report details that a team inside Apple has been working on satellite technology since 2017. It also says that while the iPhone 13 might ship with the required hardware, the software won’t be ready until next year.

And though the next iPhone could have the hardware needed for satellite communications, the features are unlikely to be ready before next year, said another person, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t yet public. The features could also change or be scrapped before they’re released.

The feature is not intended to replace mobile connectivity on iPhones. Instead, it is meant to be used in emergency situations, with Apple working on two features that would be useful in such situations.

The first feature is called Emergency Message via Satellite, which as the name suggests, will let users send emergency text messages via a satellite network. This feature will be baked into the Messages app, with the message appearing as gray bubbles instead of green or blue. The feature is internally codenamed Stewie, and it will restrict messages to a certain length.

The second feature will let users report major emergencies over satellite networks. It will ask users what kind of emergency it is and ask for more specific information related to the event. The feature can also send a user’s location and their Medical ID, which contains all key information related to their health and medical history.

Since the features will rely on satellite connectivity, they will not be available in all countries due to local regulations. Connecting to a satellite will also take some time, and users could be asked to move outdoors and walk in a certain direction to improve connectivity.

[Via Bloomberg]