How Emergency SOS via Satellite Works on iPhone 14 in Canada, USA [VIDEO]
A new feature exclusive to all iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models this year is a safety feature called Emergency SOS via satellite. This feature allows those in areas without a cellular connection to communicate with satellites when they are in an emergency.
Emergency SOS with satellite will debut in Canada and the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; excludes Guam or American Samoa), with the service free for two years with your new iPhone 14 series purchase. The feature will be coming in a later iOS 16 software update this November 2022.
“When you use a satellite connection, the experience is different than sending or receiving a message via cellular. In ideal conditions with a direct view of the sky and the horizon, a message might take 15 seconds to send, and over a minute to send under trees with light or medium foliage. If you’re under heavy foliage or surrounded by other obstructions, you might not be able to connect to a satellite. Connection times can also be impacted by your surroundings, the length of your message, and the status and availability of the satellite network,” explains Apple’s support document on the feature.
How does Emergency SOS via satellite work? When you try to call 911 and you don’t have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, a “Try Emergency Text via Satellite” message appears, along with a green Message icon that shows “SOS” in the corner. Apple says you can also try texting 911 or SOS, then tapping Emergency Services.
Apple says to hold your phone naturally in your hand and make sure you have a clear view of the sky and the horizon. Your iPhone will guide you to turn left or right to point in the direction of a satellite. Apple says a satellite connection even is maintained if your phone screen is locked. This means if you’re using someone’s iPhone 14 you can still access the service and stay connected.
Emergency SOS via satellite will ask you emergency questions that best describe your precarious situation. You can also choose to notify your emergency contacts to let them know of your situation and location.
The question, “What’s the emergency” will display, along with the following one-tap replies:
- Vehicle Issue
- Sickness or Injury
- Lost or Trapped
When you’re connected, “your iPhone starts a text conversation with emergency responders by sharing critical information like your Medical ID and emergency contact information (if you have set them up), the emergency questionnaire answers, your location (including elevation), and remaining battery life for your iPhone,” says Apple.
Your iPhone 14 antennas will connect with satellite frequencies, says Apple. “On the ground, we route your text message through a complex infrastructure to emergency service providers. Only some accept texts. For those that don’t, we’ve set up emergency relay centres with Apple‑trained specialists who call for help on your behalf.”
Apple says “Only Latin characters (such as English or French) are supported in these messages. At launch, this service supports American English, American Spanish, and French Canadian.”
Connections may take up to a minute if you’re being blocked by trees or foliage, but messages will take about 15 seconds to send. Apple says the safety feature “might not work in places above 62° latitude, such as northern parts of Canada and Alaska.”
International visitors to Canada and the U.S. can also use Emergency SOS via satellite (except for iPhone 14 models purchased in China mainland, Hong Kong, or Macao).
All messages sent with Emergency SOS via satellite are encrypted and then “decrypted by Apple to be passed along to the relevant emergency services dispatcher, or the emergency relay center.” Your location will be shared with Apple and other partners when you use Emergency SOS via satellite, as it will be sent to a local emergency services organization, and to assist responders in reaching you.
Also, if you’re in an area without a cell signal, Apple says you can now use Find My to share your location with friends and family using a satellite location.
Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature will be provided by Globalstar, as indicated by a Form 8-K filed by the company today that states it is working with Apple.
Globalstar says together with Apple it has completed milestones such as (i) a feasibility phase, (ii) material upgrades to Globalstar’s ground network to enhance redundancy and coverage, (iii) construction of 10 new gateways around the world, (iv) the successful launch of the ground spare satellite, and (v) rigorous in-field system testing.
Apple iPhone 14 models will use Globalstar’s Band 53/n53 to make their connections for Emergency SOS with satellite.
Satellite connections for cellphones are starting to become the next frontier, it seems. Last month, T-Mobile and SpaceX announced a new Starlink cellular service that will work with any cellphone and essentially bring cellular signals to everywhere on Earth. The service is pegged to debut sometime in 2023.