What you need to know about Emergency SOS via Satellite

Though it’s a feature that we hope few will ever have to use, Emergency SOS via satellite is a level up in the way we communicate and access emergency services.

All phones in the iPhone 14 lineup, including the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, can connect directly to a satellite through a combination of custom-designed components and deeply integrated software as part of iOS 16, allowing consumers to access emergency services and features like Find My when off-grid and without access to WiFi or cellular coverage.

Apple says the new service offers a “360-degree approach” to sharing information with emergency services as well as friends and family, immediately connecting users to emergency services equipped to receive text messages and relay centers with Apple-trained emergency specialists who can contact emergency responders.

Speaking of the new service, which launched as part of the iOS 16.1 update, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said: “Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage. With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can get users the help they need while they are off the grid. Our teams worked tirelessly to tackle a new set of technical challenges to bring this service to life, in addition to building a reliable, on-the-ground infrastructure. Emergency SOS via satellite is a breakthrough service available only on the iPhone 14 lineup and an innovation we hope will provide our customers with some peace of mind.”

Should users get into difficulty without cellular or Wi-Fi coverage, a new easy-to-use interface will appear on iPhone to help the user take advantage of a satellite connection. To ensure the correct emergency services are alerted at the right time, Apple will prompt users with a short questionnaire to answer questions with simple taps. This information is then transmitted to dispatchers in the initial message. The questions have been designed to identify the most common reasons for calling emergency services. Once this has been done, an interface will appear to help users point their iPhones toward a satellite.

Apple will send the user’s questionnaire responses, location, iPhone battery level, and, where possible, Medical ID to the appropriate authorities. Apple has developed custom components and software that allow iPhone 14 to connect to a satellite’s unique frequencies without a bulky antenna. Users can send and receive messages in under 15 seconds under precise conditions. Moreover, the new service will allow users to share their location via satellite as part of the Find My app, which means users can show friends and family where they are should they get lost or be without a signal. Combined with Apple Watch, these life-changing new features prove why Apple is at the forefront of innovation in the sector, and we’ll no doubt see success stories as the tech is deployed.

About the Author

News content on AppleMagazine.com is produced by our editorial team and complements more in-depth editorials which you’ll find as part of our weekly publication. AppleMagazine.com provides a comprehensive daily reading experience, offering a wide view of the consumer technology landscape to ensure you're always in the know. Check back every weekday for more.