Apple’s new Emergency SOS via satellite feature for its iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models is arriving later this month. iPhone 14 and 14 Pro owners in the US and Canada will be able to start using satellite connectivity to help relay messages and location info to emergency services when they’re out of cell range.
The service will be free for the first two years for new iPhone 14 and 14 Pro owners, and it will rely on the phone’s antennas to connect to satellite frequencies. During its initial announcement of the service, Apple said it can take less than 15 seconds to send a message with a clear view of the sky. You can also use the Find My app to share your location with friends and family.
This new satellite emergency SOS feature is enabled by Apple’s partnership with Globalstar and a $450 million fund toward satellite infrastructure. This funding is part of a larger Advanced Manufacturing Fund at Apple that the company has used for iPhone glass production with Corning, laser components for Face ID, and even covid test kits.
More than 300 Globalstar employees will support the new satellite emergency SOS service, according to Apple. When the feature is used, Apple says “the message is received by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-earth orbit traveling at speeds of approximately 16,000 mph.”
Apple hasn’t detailed exactly when the new Emergency SOS via satellite feature will debut later this month, but the company did originally say it would be “available with an iOS 16 software update coming in November.” Apple has already released iOS 16.1, and iOS 16.2 is currently in beta testing. Code inside the iOS 16.1 beta also revealed there could be a satellite SOS demo mode, so you might be able to get familiar with this new feature before you have to use it for real.