Apple Watch to Eventually Gain Satellite Connectivity Feature for SOS and Emergency Contacts
Apple plans to bring satellite connectivity to the Apple Watch in the future, which would allow for emergency texting and SOS response features directly on a wearer's wrist, Bloomberg reports.
Before the iPhone 13 launch last fall, a flurry of reports had suggested the 2021 iPhone lineup would feature "LEO," or satellite connectivity. Satellite connectivity would enable the iPhone to send short messages to emergency contacts over satellite networks without going through a carrier.
The feature ultimately did not materialize in the iPhone 13 lineup, but Bloomberg reports today that the feature could launch as early as this year with the iPhone 14. Following its launch on the iPhone, Apple is planning to bring the technology over to the Apple Watch.
Apple's plan includes two parts to let users leverage satellite connectivity. The first, called "Emergency Message via Contacts," would let users send short text messages to emergency services and contacts over a satellite network when there is no available cellular signal. The new protocol would appear with gray bubbles inside of the Messages app.
The second component would let users report a crisis, such as a car, boat, or plane crash, to relevant authorities. Per a Bloomberg report from August of last year:
The second emergency feature is focused on letting users report a crisis. The phone will ask what kind of emergency is happening, such as whether it involves a car, boat, plane or fire.
The system is also able to take more specific information, such as a person falling overboard or a ship sinking. It will ask a user if search and rescue services are needed, if there is suspicious behavior or weapons involved, and if a person has suffered a traumatic injury.
As expected, Bloomberg cautions that the feature will be dependent on local regulation and availability, adding "they’re not designed to work in every country."