One of the standout features of the new Apple iPhone 14 series is the ability to use satellite communication to help users send a message when they’re in an emergency and cannot find any cellular reception. Coming to the entire iPhone 14 series including the Pro and the Non-Pro models, the feature could be a lifesaver in unfortunate situations, especially if you are fond of adventure. Here’s all you need to know about it including how it works and how users can make the most of it.
How the feature works
When an iPhone 14 user calls or texts emergency services and is unable to communicate due to a lack of cellular reception, the iPhone will try and connect you via satellite connectivity. Satellite connectivity relies on line-of-site communication with satellites hovering above the Earth’s surface and while this is a slower method of communicating, the tech is handy when you’re outside the range of a traditional cellular tower, which is what usually keeps our phones connected.
When the phone detects so cellular service, users will see an “Emergency Text via Satellite” option that they can use. When the feature kicks in, users will also see a new interface on-screen that will guide them towards getting the best satellite connectivity from their location.
Apple mentions on its website that “when you use a satellite connection, the experience is different than sending or receiving a message via cellular. In ideal conditions with a direct view of the sky and the horizon, a message might take 15 seconds to send, and over a minute to send under trees with light or medium foliage.”
“If you’re under heavy foliage or surrounded by other obstructions, you might not be able to connect to a satellite. Connection times can also be impacted by your surroundings, the length of your message, and the status and availability of the satellite network,” the brand adds.
What about privacy?
Apple claims that when Emergency services are contacted via satellite, all messages are sent in encrypted form and are decrypted by Apple to be passed on to relevant emergency services. The messages themselves, however, may be “retained by emergency service centres and the relay provider to improve their services, and in compliance with applicable laws.”
Who can use the feature?
Satellite Connectivity is only available for the iPhone 14 series models and will only come to users in the US and Canada initially with the iOS 16 update around November 2022. The feature will also be usable in the US if you bought an iPhone 14 series model outside of the US. However, iPhone 14-series phones bought in China mainland, Hong Kong or Macao will not have the feature.
Apple also mentioned on its website that the feature may not work in regions with a latitude of over 62 degrees, such as northern parts of Canada and Alaska.