Apple has officially launched its long-awaited emergency SOS via satellite in the US and Canada, allowing iPhone 14 users to send text messages in case of an emergency outside of cellular coverage and Wi-Fi.
Messages are sent in about 15 seconds if the user has a direct view of the sky and horizon, but asking for help can take longer if there are obstacles such as forests or mountains in the area.
While pricing for the service hasn’t been revealed yet, it will be free for users for two years — industry experts speculate that Apple will want to know how you use it before setting a cost.
The service is enabled by 24 Globalstar satellites, where users point their iPhones at the sky to connect to a device that then sends their message to the nearest transmitter.
While the Tuesday rollout is only available in the US and Canada, Emergency SOS will be available in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK in December.
Apple has officially launched its emergency SOS satellite service in the US and Canada that allows users to contact one of 24 low-orbiting satellites to send a message while in a dead zone.
Apple uses satellite internet to save lives
Apple’s Emergency SOS sends messages within 15 seconds, but it can take longer if it’s bad weather or obstacles like mountains.
Once users connect to the satellite, they are given a questionnaire asking about their emergency situation.
The message is sent to the nearest sender or a relay center with Apple-trained emergency professionals if the sender is unable to receive text messages.
The message will include the user’s location, medical ID, emergency contact, and their iPhone’s battery life
“Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can provide users with the assistance they need while they are out of the network.
The service is available for the iPhone 14 lineup, which includes iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Emergency Messages—which appears in gray, as opposed to the standard green or blue—automatically shares your Medical ID, emergency contact information (if you have it set up), your location, emergency questionnaire answers, and your iPhone’s remaining battery life.
The new feature was introduced in September, along with the new iPhone 14 lineup.
When a user needs assistance while out of cellular coverage, they point their smartphone at the sky in order to connect to one of 24 satellites.
A short questionnaire appears to help the user answer vital questions with a few simple clicks, which is sent to the senders in the initial message, to ensure that they can quickly understand the user’s situation and location.
The questionnaire appears on the smartphone, and first asks users “what is the emergency”, allowing them to choose from: car or vehicle problem, illness or injury, crime, lost or trapped and fire.
Messages with the new feature appear grayed out in the text message box, allowing users to communicate with the dispatch after submitting a survey about their emergency
The next slide on the screen asks if you, another person, or several people need help and then features ask if anyone is hurt.
One part of the questionnaire asks if any of these apply and shows steep terrain, water, or a cave.
Help messages can be sent without service and will include the user’s location
Apple said it worked closely with experts to review standard questions and protocols to determine the most common reasons for calling emergency services.
The questionnaire and follow-up messages are transmitted directly via satellite to senders who accept text messages, or to relay centers staffed by trained Apple professionals who can request assistance on the user’s behalf.
The text can also be shared with the user’s emergency contacts to keep them informed.
Apple designed and built custom hardware and software that allows iPhone 14 to communicate on the unique frequencies of satellite without a bulky antenna.
A text compression algorithm has also been developed to reduce the average message size by 300 percent, making the experience as fast as possible.
Laurene Anderson, NENA: 9-1-1 Association President and Charlotte County, FL E911 Administrator said in a statement, “Not only will emergency SOS via satellite be beneficial to those who live in rural areas without cellular coverage, but also those who find themselves in Through a natural disaster that wipes out mobile networks.
It will allow members in affected communities to call 911 and get help, and that’s our mission.