This function can save lives: With a satellite signal, the user can make an emergency call with the latest iPhones even without cell phone reception.
Apple is bringing the ability to send emergency messages via satellite with the latest iPhones to Germany about a month after launch. The function is intended for situations in which there is no mobile phone reception or WiFi Internet. From Tuesday, the satellite emergency call will also be available in France, Great Britain and Ireland, as Apple announced.
Emergency satellite communications can save lives when people in areas without cell phone coverage are at risk. In the past, this required special phones with larger antennas. Apple, on the other hand, integrated an in-house system for communication with satellites into the conventional housing sizes of the iPhone 14.
Transmission can take several minutes
However, the connection remains a technical challenge. For example, the iPhone must be aimed directly at the satellite, and the transfer can take 15 seconds or several minutes. Since the satellites are not visible to the naked eye, users get help aligning the devices with an on-screen graphic. Satellites move fast and have low bandwidth, Apple pointed out.
For this reason, users must first answer a few questions when using the SOS emergency call function via satellite. The delivered message will contain the answers to the questions, as well as the location, including altitude, iPhone battery status, and information from the Emergency Passport if enabled. The conversation and follow-up messages are routed via satellite to operator centers staffed by Apple-trained professionals. They can call for help on behalf of the users. The transcript can also be forwarded to emergency contacts to keep them updated.
With the technology, users who are outside the cellular network can also transmit their location to friends or family without an emergency. The quality of the connection can be tested in a demo mode. The service is initially available free of charge for two years.