Apple has already enabled Emergency SOS functionality based on satellite connectivity for iPhone 14 users in the US and Canada. Starting next month, users in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK will also be included.
Specifically, satellite connectivity ensures that iPhone 14 users can contact emergency service representatives (e.g. 112 dispatch) via SMS, even in the unlikely event that they are in a location without coverage on any of the terrestrial mobile phone networks that could take a potential toll-free call to emergency numbers. Unfortunately, Apple’s scenario still assumes you’re in an open space with optimal visibility to satellites that might pick up the SMS sent by your mobile phone. In other words, sending an SMS in bad weather could be more difficult than the advertising campaigns depict.
Because iPhone 14 phone hardware is designed to connect to terrestrial communication relays, Apple had to find innovative ways to make it possible to connect to satellites hundreds of miles away in Earth orbit. For example, the problem of insufficient bandwidth is being addressed by introducing compression technology that reduces the amount of data sent in an SMS message by a factor of three. Even so, it takes more than 15 seconds to send a text message containing essential data such as GPS location coordinates under ideal conditions of clear skies and unobstructed visibility.
To make this process as efficient as possible, Apple has created a questionnaire that people in distress must fill out, ensuring that as much relevant information as possible is sent in the space of an otherwise very short message.