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
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 13 (Neutral)
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

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



Attachment Image
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
9 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
9 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
9 months ago
So your telling me there a chance ?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple$ Avatar
9 months ago
iSatellite - $1999 + $99/mo. subscription.

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

Related Stories

iphone 14 pro display schematics

Alleged iPhone 14 Pro Display Schematic Shows True Size of Pill-Shaped and Circular Cutouts Expected to Replace the Notch

Saturday February 26, 2022 11:25 pm PST by
An image alleged to be the display schematic for the iPhone 14 Pro series has emerged online, offering us a look at the true size of the pill-shaped and circular cutout design expected to debut on the high-end 2022 iPhones in replacement of the notch. The image first emerged on Weibo and was later shared by Apple leaker Jon Prosser who claims to have been able to "independently" confirm...
iPhone SE 2022 Red Feature

Last-Minute 5G iPhone SE Details Leaked By Reliable Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo

Friday March 4, 2022 5:19 am PST by
Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has shared six "predictions" for the third-generation iPhone SE, providing several new insights into details about the device. Repeating information from previous rumors, Kuo claims that the third-generation iPhone SE will feature the same design as the current model, the A15 Bionic chip, and 5G connectivity, but there are several new details. Some ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
maxresdefault

Apple Watch's Life-Saving Potential Highlighted in Suspenseful '911' Ad

Saturday January 1, 2022 4:15 pm PST by
Apple today shared a new ad titled "911" that emphasizes the Apple Watch's life-saving potential during emergencies. The suspenseful ad revolves around three individuals named Amanda, Jason, and Jim who were each able to get help by dialing 911 using the Apple Watch, with the ad highlighting excerpts from their frantic phone calls with dispatchers. Amanda, for example, said that her car had...
General Apps Messages

Google Exec Pushing RCS Adoption Says He's 'Not Asking Apple to Make iMessage Available on Android'

Monday January 10, 2022 3:24 pm PST by
Google for the last several years has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS, which is designed to replace the current SMS standard. RCS offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file size, improved encryption, and more. For the last few months, Google's senior vice president of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer,...
General Apps Messages

Android Devices May Soon Show iMessage Reactions as Emoji

Friday November 19, 2021 11:46 am PST by
The Google Messages app on Android devices may soon start showing iMessage reactions as emoji characters instead of text, according to some digging done by 9to5Google. In the Messages app on iOS and Mac devices, users can add a reaction like a heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, a laugh, a question mark, or an exclamation, all of which show up as annotations to an iMessage. These reactions can...
iphone 13 display pro max

iOS 16 Safety Feature Already Being Tested Using Millions of Devices

Friday December 17, 2021 3:13 am PST by
Apple is working on a "crash detection" feature using data from million of iPhones and Apple Watches that could launch in 2022, according to a recent report. Citing internal company documents and people said to be familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that the new feature could use the iPhone and Apple Watch to automatically detect when a user is involved in a ...
iPhone in Space

Unexpected iPhone 13 Rumor Hints at Satellite Feature That Android Can’t Match

Wednesday September 1, 2021 2:19 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 lineup will offer a revolutionary new feature that Android competitors have yet to be able to match, according to a late-stage report from the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 contains a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications. If enabled with the ...

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
iOS 16 mock for article

Which Devices Will iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 Support?

Thursday May 12, 2022 7:29 am PDT by
While there are as yet no concrete rumors related to which devices iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will support, the discontinuation of the iPod touch earlier this week may be an indication that as many as nine devices could be about to lose support for Apple's upcoming operating systems. iOS and iPadOS 13, 14, and 15 support all of the same devices, with the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus,...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
sony

Sony Unveils Redesigned WH-1000XM5 Headphones With Improved Noise Cancelation

Thursday May 12, 2022 9:26 am PDT by
Sony's flagship WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones have been among the best on the market for some time, and today Sony announced its fifth-generation WH-1000XM5 headphones, boasting a new design and several improvements over the previous model. The redesigned headphones replace the shrouded arms that swivel on the XM4's with an exposed arm that has a single contact point at the earcups,...
apple tv 4k design clue

Kuo: New Apple TV to Launch in Second Half of 2022, Lower Price Possible

Friday May 13, 2022 7:58 am PDT by
Apple plans to launch a new version of the Apple TV in the second half of 2022, according to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet today, Kuo said the new Apple TV will have an improved cost structure, suggesting that the device could have a lower price that is more competitive with other streaming media players like Google's Chromecast line, Amazon's Fire TV line, and the Roku line. ...
iPhone 14 Purple Feature

Full Range of iPhone 14 Color Options Revealed by Purported Leak From China

Wednesday May 11, 2022 2:20 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models will be available in a refreshed range of color options, including an all-new purple color, according to a recent rumor. The claim comes from a post on Chinese social media site Weibo by an unverified source and purports to reveal the full range of color options for Apple's upcoming iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models. Compared to the selection of color...