The new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro have a ton of new features, including Crash Detection, excellent battery life, and the Dynamic Island, but there’s one feature that hasn’t arrived yet: Emergency SOS via satellite. But it won’t be missing for much longer.
In a press release touting the technology and infrastructure behind the feature, Apple confirms that Emergency SOS via satellite will be arriving “later this month” for customers in the U.S. and Canada. It’s not clear whether it will coincide with the launch of iOS 16.2 or arrive via a separate update.
Apple developed the service in partnership with Globalstar with an investment of $450 million to provide the “critical infrastructure” for the new feature. As Apple explains, Emergency SOS via satellite uses the spectrum in L and S bands designated for mobile satellite services by ITU Radio Regulations. Here’s how it works:
When an iPhone user makes an Emergency SOS via satellite request, the message is received by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-earth orbit traveling at speeds of approximately 16,000 mph. The satellite then sends the message down to custom ground stations located at key points all over the world.
When a message is received, it’s then routed to emergency services or a relay center with Apple-trained emergency specialists if the closest location is unable to receive texts.
Globalstar executive chairman Jay Monroe calls Emergency SOS via satellite a “generational advancement in satellite communications” thanks to new high-power antennas designed and manufactured specifically for Apple that were installed in all Globalstar worldwide ground stations.
The feature will be free for at least two years for all iPhone 14 users in the U.S. and Canada, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, Apple says Emergency SOS via satellite isn’t available in Guam or American Samoa, and might not work in places above 62 degrees latitude, such as northern parts of Canada and Alaska.