They had already announced it at the launch during the keynote in Cupertino: in case of lack of telephone signal, iPhone 14 can send a request for SOS via satellite. Inside the Steve Jobs theater the reactions were mixed: I remember that some people rejoiced in the revolution while others had lukewarm reactions. From today the function will also be available in Italy: we tried it in preview and we’ll tell you about it how it works and how to activate it.
iPhone 14: how to ask for help via satellite
First of all, to be able to ask for help via satellite there must be no telephone coverage (and obviously no wi-fi either… ça va sans dire). Instead of showing the classic “No Service” message now iPhone 14 will display a stylized satellite symbol. But how do you actually ask for help? There is no special menu, simply dial 112 (in Italy). Once done, Phone will try to place the call and then in the lower right corner it will inform you that it is possible to ask for help via satellite.
At this point, a service message appears reminding you that:
- To establish a connection, you must be outdoors (possibly away from trees, in short, you must have free access to the sky);
- Sending messages will take longer (in the order of seconds, sending is not immediate);
- It will be necessary to answer the questions proposed to receive help more quickly.
After the disclaimer, you will have to answer a short questionnaire that will help the sorting center address your request for help: with simple taps on the screen you can indicate whether it is a car accident, an illness, a crime, a lost or trapped person or a fire.
And then as a last, very important step, it asks if you want to share your position and the messages you will exchange with the sorting center with your trusted contacts (obviously our suggestion is to add your trusted contacts before venturing into the mountains or deserts of the world ).
After this very fast procedure, which will really only take a few seconds, you will have to start looking for the satellite to make the connection.
Request help by sending SOS via satellite with iPhone 14
Docking iPhone 14 to the satellite is a breeze
Keep in mind that the satellite, being in low orbit, does not stand still but rotates and also very quickly, so you will have to move from time to time to make sure you are correctly coupled.
But don’t worry, the operation is very simple and “visual”. As happens with AirTag, just move and iPhone will give you precise information on where to find the satellite.
At this point you will start a conversation via message with a sorting center sharing essential information such as medical records, emergency contact information (if you have it set up), answers to emergency questions, location (including altitude), and remaining iPhone battery life (this data is really very clever).
The task of the sorting center is to collect further information (in addition to that sent automatically) and then to activate the rescue on your behalf. This happens because the rescue services in Italy and other places in Europe do not expect 112 to be activated via messaging but only with a phone call.
Your conversation with the operator must be very short, without delays, because sending a text to the satellite is an operation that requires time (in the order of seconds of course) so the shorter you are, the better it will be. When the operator has properly framed the situation, he will activate the emergency services.
What an exaggeration, when will I ever need the satellite!
Never say never, in Italy there are endless possibilities for trekking along beautiful mountain routes, or – why not – you can take wonderful boat trips in the open sea… and I assure you that in both situations having a cellular network is impossible. For this reason the satellite is a precious help. It is not like having a real satellite phone (with which you can call and send SMS messages) but it is used only and exclusively in case of real emergencies.
New feature: share your location via satellite in the Find My app
A new feature arriving from the end of March 2023 will be to be able to update your position within the “Where is” app via satellite. The position will have to be updated manually and this can be done every 15 minutes. This is an excellent solution perhaps when you go camping in some remote place and want to communicate your position to your trusted contacts.
Why only iPhones and not other smartphone manufacturers?
This is a good question. Apple decided to invest more than 450 million dollars in this operation, tightening a partnership strategica con Globalstara telecommunications company – which has been operating in the United States for over 20 years – and which in heaven has a constellation of 24 satellites which circle the Earth in low orbit. The investments concern the future expansion of the satellite constellation but also of the ground stations that receive your SOS and process it thanks to the specially developed advanced software. At the moment the existing ground stations are located in Texas, Alaska, Florida and Puerto Rico while the new structures created also thanks to the Apple partnership are located in Nevada and Hawaii.
What we don’t know, however, is whether the sorting center is internal to Apple or whether it is a contract to a third-party company that acts as an intermediary between the unfortunate person and the emergency services of every single country in which the SOS service via satellite is active (United States, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, ItaliaAustria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal.)
SOS via satellite with iPhone 14: free or paid?
The satellite SOS request service will be available free for 2 years for all those who have purchased a iPhone 14 (any one of the range). At the end of the two years we still don’t know what the prices will be, but we believe that it will be a subscription service.