When Apple announced the iPhone 14 line-up, it said that the Emergency SOS via satellite service would be launching in November. It last week reiterated that, providing a little more information. Today, the service is live in the US and Canada.
Additionally, Apple has also revealed that the feature will go live in four more countries sometime next month …
Emergency SOS via satellite
The service operates via Globalstar satellites specifically designed to provide services to smartphones. It allows access to 911 services when you are in isolated areas without cellular coverage.
The service will eventually be subscription-based, but Apple says it will be free for all iPhone 14 owners in compatible countries for the first two years. We don’t yet know what the subscription will cost at the end of the free period.
Live in the US and Canada
Apple made the announcement today.
Apple today announced its groundbreaking safety service Emergency SOS via satellite is now available to customers in the US and Canada. Available on all iPhone 14 models, the innovative technology enables users to message with emergency services while outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. Additionally, if users want to reassure friends and family of their whereabouts while traveling off the grid, they can now open the Find My app and share their location via satellite. Emergency SOS via satellite is available in the US and Canada starting today, November 15.
“Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage. With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can get users the help they need while they are off the grid,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Our teams worked tirelessly to tackle a new set of technical challenges to bring this service to life, in addition to building a reliable on-the-ground infrastructure. Emergency SOS via satellite is a breakthrough service available only on the iPhone 14 lineup, and a new innovation that we hope will provide our customers some peace of mind.”
The company went on to announce availability plans for four more countries.
[It] will come to France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK in December.
Available for all iPhone 14 models
The feature is available on any iPhone 14 model.
Every model in the iPhone 14 lineup — iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max — can connect directly to a satellite through a combination of custom-designed components and deeply integrated software.
Emergency SOS via satellite builds on existing features vital to iPhone users, including Emergency SOS, Medical ID, emergency contacts, and Find My location sharing, offering the ability to connect to a satellite for a more 360-degree approach to sharing critical information with emergency services, family, and friends.
This game-changing service allows Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) — or emergency services call centers — to connect to even more users in emergency situations, and requires no additional software or protocols to enable communications. Users will be connected directly to emergency services that are equipped to receive text messages, or to relay centers with Apple-trained emergency specialists who are ready to contact PSAPs that cannot receive text messages on the user’s behalf.
How it works
Apple walked us through the service during the keynote, and has summarized how the service works.
iPhone can quickly and easily call emergency services if a user is in need of help, even if they are unable to dial 911. With Emergency SOS via satellite — introduced with the iPhone 14 lineup — if a user is not able to reach emergency services because no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage is available, an easy-to-use interface appears on iPhone to get the user help utilizing a satellite connection. A short questionnaire appears to help the user answer vital questions with a few simple taps, which is transmitted to dispatchers in the initial message, to ensure they are able to quickly understand a user’s situation and location. Apple worked closely with experts to review standard questions and protocols to identify the most common reasons for calling emergency services.
Following the questionnaire, the intuitive interface guides the user where to point their iPhone to connect and sends the initial message. This message includes the user’s questionnaire responses; location, including altitude; iPhone battery level; and Medical ID, if enabled. The questionnaire and follow-up messages are relayed directly via satellite to dispatchers that accept text messages, or to relay centers staffed by Apple‑trained specialists who can call for help on the user’s behalf. The transcript can also be shared with the user’s emergency contacts to keep them informed.
A key benefit is that 911 centers need no extra equipment to receive these messages.
“We dedicate our lives to helping people in need, but there are inevitably people who are not able to contact a dispatcher. Emergency SOS via satellite will allow us to help iPhone users in more remote areas who might not otherwise be able to reach us,” said Jennifer Kirkland, ENP, the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center’s 911 center manager. “Because this service requires no additional technology for PSAPs [Public Safety Answering Points], and because Apple has implemented a relay center model that 911 operators are familiar with, we can expect a seamless rollout, both for the PSAPs that accept text messages, and for those that are still voice-only.”
The feature includes a demo mode, so you can familiarize yourself with how it works, so you’ll be ready in a real emergency.
Using the built-in Emergency SOS via satellite demo, users can test satellite connectivity on their iPhone by connecting to a real satellite in range without calling emergency services, allowing them to experience the process and familiarize themselves with the service.
The system also expands the availability of the Find My feature.
For users who go off the grid but don’t experience an emergency, this advanced technology also enables them to share their location via satellite with Find My. In the Find My app, users can open the Me tab, swipe up to see My Location via Satellite, and tap Send My Location. The satellite connection on the iPhone 14 lineup also works with other safety features available on iPhone and Apple Watch, including Crash Detection and Fall Detection.
Apple has provided a support document for the service.
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