Satellite connectivity takes a big step forward into the mainstream as Apple announce satellite-to-smartphone applications as part of new iPhone 14’s key features.  

In Apple’s press release they describe how the new Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via Satellite will be available across the entire iPhone 14 line-up introducing “groundbreaking safety capabilities that can provide emergency assistance when it matters most”.  

The Crash Detection system utilises the iPhone 14’s dual-core accelerometer with the new high dynamic range gyroscope to detect G-force and automatically dial emergency services on behalf of the user. The satellite link allows for ubiquitous connectivity in an emergency, so the users location can be shared even if network coverage is unavailable.  

The Emergency SOS is described as combining “custom components deeply integrated with software to allow antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.”  

It’s not all plain sailing, as Apple admit satellites have low bandwidth, which combined with their movement means it could take minutes for messages to get through. To try and mitigate this Apple has developed UI to assist users in strengthening their signal to the satellite. Then a few vital questions to assess the nature of the emergency allow Apple-trained specialist to get the appropriate assistance for the user.  

The real exciting element is the breakthrough technology that allows for users to manually share their location over satellite with the Find My app without any cellular or Wi-Fi connection. This will certainly be a boost to user confidence in those who frequent remote locations be it for leisure or work.  

There is one more condition on the Emergency SOS via satellite to keep in mind, however. The service will not be available to all customers, with the US and Canada set to have first access from November. The service is free for two years, but it looks like users will have to start paying for the privilege of the Emergency SOS via satellite feature.  

So, the question remains how much will satellite connectivity evolve and will we see it more in mainstream products? Either way, it is a positive development for those looking to see this side of the communications ecosystem realise its potential.  

 If you want to get the real scoop on the world of global telecommunications, Total Telecom Congress 2022 runs this November 1st & 2nd at the Business Design Centre in London.