Apple unveiled the iPhone 14 a few months ago, and even by the standards of Apple, this is at best an iterative improvement for the iPhone line. There is one new and potentially important feature though: Emergency SOS. This feature, exclusive to the iPhone 14, can communicate with satellites to get help if you find yourself in trouble without any bars. Emergency SOS wasn’t available when the phone shipped, but Apple has just flipped the switch.
This feature is dependent on the new wireless chipset in the iPhone 14 family, which beams signals into space where they are received by Globalstar satellites. You won’t be able to place a call or access data — the service only supports text messages to emergency services. Some areas have public safety access points (PSAP) that support texting, but others do not. In those areas, Apple will have relay stations where your text information can be called into emergency services.
Both Cnet and The Verge have been able to test the service — at least as far as communicating with the Apple relay station. For obvious reasons, Apple doesn’t want everyone sending erroneous alerts to their local PSAP. It’s not like using a traditional satellite phone, and it’s a far cry from cellular networks. To use Emergency SOS, you first have to try to contact 911 operators the old-fashioned way. If you don’t have service, the iPhone will ask if you want to connect to a satellite. A series of prompts will have you indicate the type of emergency, and then you have to find a satellite.
Smartphone antennas are designed to talk to cell towers that are, at most, a few miles away. Getting data to a satellite in orbit is difficult, even when we’re talking about just a few bytes of text data. The phone will help you zero in on the satellite and track it as it moves across the sky, of which you need an unobstructed view. Sending each message might take as little as 10-15 seconds, or it could be a few minutes. The length of time depends on atmospheric conditions, as well as your location. Tall buildings, mountains, trees, and other objects can block line-of-sight to the satellite.
If you’ve got an iPhone 14, the service is now live in the US and Canada, to be followed by France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK in December. Obviously, you should not fake an emergency to play with the new satellite features. Apple has a demo built into the iPhone so you can practice tracking a satellite, though. It’s in the Emergency SOS settings under “Try Demo.”
SpaceX has promised limited data services via Starlink satellites for T-Mobile subscribers starting next year, but there’s very little information about how the service will work. Apple’s Emergency SOS will be free for two years, but it will cost an undecided amount of money after that.
Source by www.extremetech.com