Bloomberg: Apple Working on Emergency Satellite Features for iPhones, 2021 Launch Unlikely

Apple is working on satellite capabilities for the iPhone that will allow users to send texts in emergency situations, reports Bloomberg. The feature would also allow ‌iPhone‌ users to report crashes and other emergencies in areas where there is no cellular coverage.

iPhone in Space
There are at least two emergency features that will rely on satellite networks, and while satellite technology has been in the works for years, these capabilities are not likely to launch in 2021.

The first feature, Emergency Message via Satellite, is designed to let users text emergency services and contacts using a satellite network when there is no signal available, and it will be integrated into the Messages app as a third communications protocol alongside SMS and iMessage. It will feature gray message bubbles rather than green or blue, and message length will be restricted.

The texting-via-satellite tool, codenamed Stewie inside Apple, will restrict messages to a shorter length. The texts will automatically push through to an emergency contact's phone, even if the do-not-disturb setting is on. One planned design will let a user send the message by typing "Emergency SOS" where they would usually input a contact name. In addition to delivering texts, the service may eventually be able to handle some phone calls too.

The second feature will let users report major emergencies like plane crashes and fires using satellite networks. It will be similar to a "911" call in the U.S. and can provide information like a user's location and medical ID, in addition to alerting emergency contacts.

A report over the weekend from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the iPhone 13 would include low earth orbit satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages without 4G and 5G coverage, but further analysis has indicated that this suggestion is incorrect and unlikely.

According to Bloomberg, when Apple does implement satellite connectivity, it will be limited to "crisis scenarios" and will not be an alternative to cellular networks that allows for widespread texting and calling.

Apple will not launch these satellite capabilities in every country, and their availability will be dependent on local regulations and satellite locations. One built-in feature will ask users to go outdoors and walk in a specified direction to help the ‌iPhone‌ connect to a satellite. Connections may not be instantaneous, and it could take up to a minute for an ‌iPhone‌ to successfully communicate with a satellite.

Connecting to satellites will require a special modem chip, and Apple will continue to use Qualcomm technology for the next few years. It is not clear if Apple will partner with Globalstar, as Kuo has suggested. Globalstar competitors Iridium Communications and Omnispace are not working with Apple, according to Bloomberg, but the report does not rule out Globalstar.

The satellite features are "unlikely to be ready before next year," though Apple's modem chips this year could "have the hardware needed for satellite communications." The functionality could be changed or scrapped prior to when Apple is planning to launch it and it has not yet been finalized.

Apple has considered launching its own satellites, but the planned emergency features will rely on existing networks.

Related Roundup: iPhone 13
Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
New MacBook Pros Launching Tomorrow With These 4 New Features 2

M5 MacBook Models to Use New Compact Camera Module in 2025

Wednesday July 17, 2024 2:58 am PDT by
Apple in 2025 will take on a new compact camera module (CCM) supplier for future MacBook models powered by its next-generation M5 chip, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Writing in his latest investor note on unny-opticals-2025-business-momentum-to-benefit-509819818c2a">Medium, Kuo said Apple will turn to Sunny Optical for the CCM in its M5 MacBooks. The Chinese optical lens company...
tinypod apple watch

TinyPod Turns Your Apple Watch Into an iPod

Wednesday July 17, 2024 3:18 pm PDT by
If you have an old Apple Watch and you're not sure what to do with it, a new product called TinyPod might be the answer. Priced at $79, the TinyPod is a silicone case with a built-in scroll wheel that houses the Apple Watch chassis. When an Apple Watch is placed inside the TinyPod, the click wheel on the case is able to be used to scroll through the Apple Watch interface. The feature works...
iphone 14 lineup

Cellebrite Unable to Unlock iPhones on iOS 17.4 or Later, Leak Reveals

Thursday July 18, 2024 4:18 am PDT by
Israel-based mobile forensics company Cellebrite is unable to unlock iPhones running iOS 17.4 or later, according to leaked documents verified by 404 Media. The documents provide a rare glimpse into the capabilities of the company's mobile forensics tools and highlight the ongoing security improvements in Apple's latest devices. The leaked "Cellebrite iOS Support Matrix" obtained by 404 Media...
Apple Watch Series 9

2024 Apple Watch Lineup: Key Changes We're Expecting

Tuesday July 16, 2024 7:59 am PDT by
Apple is seemingly planning a rework of the Apple Watch lineup for 2024, according to a range of reports from over the past year. Here's everything we know so far. Apple is expected to continue to offer three different Apple Watch models in five casing sizes, but the various display sizes will allegedly grow by up to 12% and the casings will get taller. Based on all of the latest rumors,...
bsod

Crowdstrike Says Global IT Outage Impacting Windows PCs, But Mac and Linux Hosts Not Affected

Friday July 19, 2024 3:12 am PDT by
A widespread system failure is currently affecting numerous Windows devices globally, causing critical boot failures across various industries, including banks, rail networks, airlines, retailers, broadcasters, healthcare, and many more sectors. The issue, manifesting as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), is preventing computers from starting up properly and forcing them into continuous recovery...

Top Rated Comments

alexandr Avatar
38 months ago
leaked image of why this feature will not be available in 2021 iphones.



Attachment Image
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
38 months ago

The feature would also allow iPhone users to report crashes...
I had no idea Apple took iOS crashes so seriously. Truly admirable commitment to quality!
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
38 months ago
Gotta wonder why some people still doubt Kuo. Well over a decade of reliable predictions in the industry. Countless contacts in the supply chain. Nothing in the iPhone is made without the Chinese supply chain knowing it.

Kuo might not be familiar with the soft aspects of the deal, e.g. which satellite provider Apple is partnering with or marketing launch dates. But when it comes to hardware, he's almost 100% in the know.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HALE101 Avatar
38 months ago
So your telling me there a chance ?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple$ Avatar
38 months ago
iSatellite - $1999 + $99/mo. subscription.

(Excludes Apple Care+, add $499)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SonOfaMac Avatar
38 months ago
Emergency use when available sounds far more likely than previous reports!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)