Apple announced its new iPhone 14 phones today with the long-rumored feature of satellite connectivity when using Emergency SOS. This service will be powered by the long-time satellite service provider Globalstar.
iPhone 14 adds Emergency SOS via Satellite
Emergency SOS via satellite will come with the new iPhone 14 and let you send compressed text messages directly to satellites. Emergency SOS is designed to be used in scenarios where you don’t have regular cellular service but need to reach emergency services.
To be clear, this won’t let you text anyone in your contacts when you don’t have service. While in SOS mode, you can only send messages to 911 centers that support text services or to call centers that will then make the 911 call for you. This will expand where you can use this service in case the worst happens during a hike or in other remote areas where cell service isn’t available.
Emergency SOS via Satellite will be free for all users for two years and will be available in November – but only for iPhone 14 owners in the US and Canada. Apple didn’t announce the future pricing of the item, and we will have to wait for that deadline to come closer until we see what it will cost for this potentially life saving feature.
Globalstar to provide satellite backend for Apple
As previously rumored, Globalstar will be the company behind Apple’s satellite safety system. Founded in 2001, Globalstar operates a constellation of 24 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide services to satellite-equipped cell phones.
In an SEC filing released during Apple’s “Far Out” event, Globalstar plans to allocate 85% of its current and future network capacity to Apple for this service. With the news of Globalstar and Apple’s partnership, trading of Globalstar was halted on the New York Stock Exchange, with the company’s stock price being much lower than Apple’s and more susceptible to drastic changes. However, it resumed shortly after the event ended.
This differs from the partnership SpaceX and T-Mobile made a few weeks ago as that will provide service to all its customers in dead zones via Starlink satellites. Right now, Apple’s satellite service is only in case of emergencies.
Apple’s latest iPhone 14 will be available to order this Friday and will start shipping on September 16, one week later. There will be two models, the standard iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro, and both will come with this satellite SOS capability.