How to use Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14

How to use Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone and Apple Watch

Hey, wanderlust, do you love wandering around the globe? But is scared of getting lost in the wilderness? Then the iPhone 14 series have something special for you with the Emergency SOS via satellite feature. It greatly enhances emergency services and sets new bars for every smartphone out there.

How Emergency SOS via satellite works

Thanks to Emergency SOS via satellite, you can text(sometimes call) emergency services when you’re out of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage from your iPhone 14 devices. How?

Apple uses custom components infused in iPhone 14’s core components, hardware, and software to guide you in the direction of the satellite. This allows antennas embedded into the iPhone 14 lineup to connect to a satellite directly.

Once the connectivity is established, the iPhone 14 device can send and receive messages from the emergency services when your device is not in the range of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.

How Emergency SOS connects to the satellite and emergency services 

Apple’s implementation of satellite connectivity works in four steps: 

  1. Your iPhone connects to a satellite. 
  2. The satellite then relays to the Ground station.
  3. The ground station then gets in contact with the Relay center.
  4. The relay center relays information to the emergency services. 

Note: As per the SEC filing, Globalstar will be Apple’s satellite operator and allocate 85% of its current and future network capacity to support iPhones. Moreover, Globalstar will provide and maintain all the required resources, from personnel and software to satellite systems.

How emergency SOS connects to the satellite and emergency services 
Source: Apple

Ideal conditions for iPhone 14’s satellite connectivity

A clear sky and visible horizon are ideal conditions for satellite connectivity. When you match those ideal situations, your message will hardly take around 15 seconds to reach the emergency services. 

If the situation involves the hindrance of trees or any light to medium foliage, the messages might take around 1 minute to be passed on. And if you are surrounded by heavy obstructions like walls, rain, and clouds, it might even take around 15 minutes to reach out to a satellite network.

Overall, your connection and delivery time will always depend on your surroundings, the length of your message, and the availability of the satellite network.

When and where will the Emergency SOS via satellite feature work?

The satellite connectivity only comes into action when you’re outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage and trying to call or text emergency services or when the crash detection feature is activated on your iPhone. So, it won’t affect your battery life if you’re out and about, only in emergencies.

Availability of Emergency SOS via satellite feature:

  • You’ll need an iPhone 14 model and iOS 16 software update coming in November 2022.
  • It’s available only in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada.
    • Not available in Guam or American Samoa.
  • No cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.
  • It might not work in places above 62° latitude, like the northern parts of Canada and Alaska.

What about international travelers who are visiting the U.S. and Canada?

The good news, you can take advantage of the Emergency SOS via satellite when traveling to these countries. Although, hard luck if you bought your iPhone from China mainland, Hong Kong, or Macao, as the feature isn’t available in those models.

How to connect to a satellite on iPhone 14

Things to note:

  • Move out to heightened and open areas where there’s the least amount of obstruction, and you can see the sky and the horizon clearly
  • Hills, mountains, canyons, and tall structures can block the connection.
  • The satellite connection can be maintained even if your phone screen is locked.
  1. Hold the iPhone 14 in your hand. 
    Hold naturally; no need to raise your arm or hold the phone up. Although don’t put it in a pocket or backpack.
  2. Activate Emergency SOS. (Follow this guide to know how)
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions and turn left or right to avoid a blocked signal.
  4. When a satellite is connected to your iPhone, you will be given directions to point your iPhone towards the satellite. 
  5. Answer questions on the screen to get a faster response.
Using Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone
Source: Apple

How to text emergency services via satellite

  1. Call emergency services even if your normal cellular carrier network isn’t available. You might be able to make the call via satellite. 
  2. If your call doesn’t connect, send a text to emergency services via satellite.
  3. Tap Emergency Text via Satellite.
    You can also launch the Messages app, text 911 or SOS, then tap Emergency Services.
  4. Tap Report Emergency
  5. Answer the onscreen prompts that describe your situation.  
    You can choose to notify your enlisted emergency contacts along with your location. 
  6. To connect to a satellite, follow the onscreen instructions. 
  7. After you’re connected, continue following the onscreen instructions to stay connected while you send your message to emergency services. 
Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone
Source: Apple

Once you are connected to the emergency services, you will be able to make conversations with the emergency responders. Once connected to them, you might be asked to provide your critical information, such as your Medical ID and emergency contact information. 

Some of these emergency questions might also include questions like your location (including elevation) and remaining battery life. 

Note: Only Latin characters (such as English or French) are supported in these messages. This service supports American English, Spanish, and French Canadians at launch. 

Share location via Find My
You can also share your location over Find My even when a cellular or Wi-Fi connection isn’t available. This lends hikers, campers, and alike additional security.

How much will the Emergency SOS via satellite cost?

As announced by Apple, the satellite connectivity will remain free for 2 years from the day you buy iPhone 14. Besides that, we know nothing; what will it cost after two years? Or how long the two free years of service will last. But, as always, iGeeksBlog will keep you updated. So, stay tuned.

But why is Apple charging a fee?

Because it’s a physical, financial, and regulatory endeavor. According to a Reuters report, Apple is putting $450 million into the project (mostly to Globalstar).

The company has also agreed to cover 95% of costs for new satellites associated with the feature. So the trillion-dollar company will depend on a subscription to recover this cost and maintain its profits.

Emergency SOS via satellite and your privacy 

As we know, the iPhone has strict privacy policies for all its features and apps, and satellite connectivity is no exception. When you send messages using satellite connectivity, all your messages are sent in encrypted form and decrypted by Apple to be passed along to the relevant emergency services dispatcher or the emergency relay center.

Remember that the messages you send might be retained by the services that receive them and the relay provider to improve their services and comply with applicable laws. 

Do you think it’s a coincidence that days before the Apple event and the rumored satellite connectivity feature, T-Mobile and Musk’s SpaceX announced a similar feature? Definitely not; with Globalstar’s 24-satellite constellation at its beck and call, Apple has joined a slew of companies trying to eliminate the dead zones.

It might not come as a surprise, but even Amazon is eyeing the space with its’ Project Kuiper. However, the e-commerce giant plans to beam internet to cell towers rather than directly to phones.

If we zoom out from the current picture, there’s a pretty simple big picture. Internet connectivity even in the remotest of areas of the earth. And whosoever manages to provide and grab the opportunity first will be rewarded heftily.

And while Apple is not the pioneer, it can be the industry’s game changer, especially when it comes to grabbing eyeballs, getting people to pay, and pushing (if not breaking) the glass ceiling.

Conclusion

As we know, Apple is a brand that values its consumers and their safety. As Apple has already implemented many quality safety measures in their iPhones, the Satellite connectivity just gave them a big leap to ensure their users’ safety.

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