Say you twisted your ankle on the trail, you’re out of cell signal range, and you need to call for help. Sounds like a great time to learn how to use a new feature on your phone, right? Hell no, and it seems that Apple has come to the same conclusion. Sleuths at 9to5Mac discovered some code in the latest iOS 16 developer beta that hints at the existence of a satellite SOS demo mode, potentially so you can get familiar with the feature before you get into trouble.
SOS via satellite is the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro-only feature Apple announced (and demo’d for us) earlier this month. It uses satellite connectivity to help relay messages and location info to emergency services when you’re out of cell range. It’s not live yet; the feature is expected to arrive in November.
In the meantime, Apple seems to be laying the groundwork for its official launch. 9to5Mac found “multiple features” in iOS 16.1 developer beta 3 related to satellite connectivity, but the demo mode stands out as something we hadn’t heard about before. This satellite demo seems like a legitimate walkthrough, too, that requires you to go outside and find a clear view of the sky to use it. 9to5Mac reports that it will be available anytime from the settings menu.
Apple is far from alone in pursuing ways to connect phones to satellites, but it’s still a very new concept to most people. A demo mode could help iPhone 14 owners get familiar with the feature and how it works — or maybe help convince them that it’s worth paying for. Apple will include two years of service on the iPhone 14, but after that, it’s unclear how much it will cost.