Apple Inc.’s drive to add satellite capabilities to the iPhone will be centered on emergency circumstances, allowing users to contact first responders and report wrecks in locations where cellular service is unavailable.
According to a source familiar with the subject, Apple is working on at least two related emergency features that will rely on satellite networks and will be included in future iPhones.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has been working on satellite technology for years, with a team researching the subject since at least 2017. The possibility that the next iPhone could have satellite capabilities grew this week after TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the phone will most likely work with Globalstar Inc. spectrum.
This has led to speculation that the iPhone will evolve into something like to a satellite phone, allowing users to avoid relying on cellular networks. According to the individual, Apple’s plan is initially more limited in scope, with a focus on assisting customers in crisis situations.
And, while the next iPhone may include the technology required for satellite communications, the features are unlikely to be available before next year, according to another source who declined to be identified since the plans have not yet been made public. Before they’re released, the features may change or be removed.
A spokesperson at Apple declined to comment.
When there is no cell signal, the first component, Emergency Message via Satellite, will allow users to text emergency services and contacts using a satellite network. That capability will be available as a third protocol in the Messages app, alongside normal SMS and iMessage, and will show with gray message bubbles rather than green or blue. The second component will be a mechanism for reporting significant catastrophes utilizing satellite networks, such as plane disasters and sinking ships.
Apple’s texting-by-satellite tool, codenamed Stewie, will limit messages to a certain length. Even if the do-not-disturb setting is enabled, the SMS will be sent to an emergency contact’s phone. In one design, a user will be able to send the message by typing “Emergency SOS” in the place where they would normally type a contact name. The service may soon be able to handle certain phone calls in addition to providing SMS.
This feature will be handy in regions where 4G or 5G coverage is unavailable, such as mountains or remote lakes. Apple has pondered installing its own satellites as part of its larger plans, but this functionality is likely to rely on current networks.
The second emergency function allows users to report an emergency. The phone will inquire as to the nature of the emergency, such as whether it includes a car, boat, plane, or fire.
More detailed information, such as a person going overboard or a ship sinking, can also be gathered by the system. It will question if search and rescue services are required, if suspicious conduct or weapons are present, and if a traumatic injury has occurred.
The function can communicate a user’s location and Medical ID, a virtual card in the Health app with a summary of a user’s medical history, age, prescriptions, and details like height and weight, when contacting emergency services. It can also send an alert to a user’s emergency contacts, which are often family, friends, or doctors.
It’s unknown which emergency services or suppliers would be used by the system. The services would compete with those offered by the Garmin inReach device, which allows users to send short messages or an SOS using satellite networks.
Of course, these features are subject to satellite availability and local regulations. They aren’t designed to function in every region, and Apple has devised a system that requires users to be outside and walk in a specific direction in order for the iPhone to connect to a satellite. Linking to a network will also not always be instantaneous, with testing indicating that it could take up to one minute to complete.
Apple will require a unique chip to connect to satellites. While the company is working on its own unique cellular modems for use in the coming years, it will rely on a Qualcomm Inc. modem for the time being.
Globalstar’s stock soared on Monday on speculation that the next iPhone may include satellite capabilities. That company earlier stated that it had inked a deal to develop a new service with an unidentified third party, a declaration that some now believe to be proof that it is Apple’s partner.
According to people familiar with the situation, Apple is not collaborating with Globalstar competitor Iridium Communications Inc. on the project. According to industry expert Tim Farrar, another satellite business, Omnispace LLC, has not yet committed to creating equipment that may support such services.
Globalstar rose 64% to $2.35 before the market closed on Monday. The stock dropped by as much as 24 percent in late trade, but recovered after Bloomberg reported on Apple’s plans. In extended trading, the price of iridium fell as much as 7.4%.
Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhones in the middle of next month. Aside from the potential satellite capabilities, the business wants to add a thinner display cutout, a speedier processor, and an upgraded Face ID system. Significant camera hardware and software changes will also be included in the new model.
Source: Yahoo News