Ein an accident on the main road, no mobile phone network, the neighbor has to walk several kilometers before she can get help. Had she been unconscious or trapped in the vehicle, possibly in the dark, this episode could have ended badly. There are many communities in Germany without mobile phone coverage and streets where “no network” appears for miles on the cell phone display. When Apple released the new SOS rescue service for the iPhone 14 models on Tuesday, we were able to try it out on the balcony at home. There is no network at home. The new emergency function works in conjunction with the Globalstar satellite system.
Since Tuesday, iPhone 14 owners in Germany, France, Great Britain and Ireland have been able to make an emergency call via satellite drop. In the United States and Canada, this has worked for a little longer. The emergency call is not made as a phone call, but with text messages. If you trigger the satellite SOS, some basic information is first requested and sent to a ground station via satellite together with the emergency pass stored in the iPhone and your own location. In order to locate the satellite, you have to align the iPhone appropriately.
A message will appear on the display telling you which way to turn it. We had no satellite contact inside the house, it took a minute or two to locate it outside and it also took more than a minute to send a text message. Meanwhile, we were asked to follow the satellite, i.e. to turn the device accordingly.
The emergency call system should initially be free of charge
From the ground station, the emergency call is forwarded to a rescue control center and there is the option of using the iPhone to inform stored emergency contacts about it. The emergency contacts see the user’s location, the nature of the emergency and a live transcript of the conversation with the emergency services. To try it out, you can select the emergency call SOS menu in the iPhone settings. A demo mode appears there as a menu item. The establishment of the satellite contact is real, you also get automatically created answers back from the ground station, but no emergency call is triggered.
Although the iPhone 14 does not replace a satellite phone with the option of voice telephony, the new function has a high added value. The Globalstar satellites orbit at an altitude of 1400 kilometers above the earth. Most of Africa, India and the polar regions are not covered. Sports watch manufacturer Garmin has a similar offer with its Inreach devices: The small satellite phones also only work with text messages, but transmit in the Iridium satellite network, which has a higher coverage of the earth. However, the inreach devices are complicated to use and require an additional subscription for satellite use. Apple’s emergency call SOS will be free for the next two years.
Another advantage of the satellite connection of the iPhone 14 is that you can use the “Where is” app, with which you can share your location with other people or your own Apple-Locate devices, share your location with your friends via satellite. Even if there is no emergency and you just want to tell loved ones at home where the hiking group is currently in the wild, radio-locked Taunus. Should Apple also allow the sending of iMessage messages via satellite in a next step, the group could also strengthen its position in the messaging sector with the new functionality.
Tag: iphone design, iphone 14, apple iphone, iphone release