Apple Launches Emergency SOS Feature In Canada, US

Apple on Tuesday launched its emergency SOS connectivity capability for iPhone 14 users in the United States and Canada.

Apple in its announcement said that the service will also be extended to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Ireland in December.

The emergency feature was first revealed to the world in September, when Apple launched its iPhone 14 handsets, the second generation AirPods Pro, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8.

Apple iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus

Public safety

It allows iPhone 14 to connect with emergency services when cellular and Wi-Fi coverage are not available. It sends an emergency SOS via satellite.

Previously people would have needed a satphone to do the same.

Apple’s not spot solution utilises a combination of custom-designed components and deeply integrated software in the handset to access the satellites, but users need to be outside (best with clear skies) and the iPhone will tell the user which way to point the smartphone so it can connect to a moving satellite.

It also allows people to reassure friends and family of their whereabouts while traveling off the grid, as iPhone 14 users can open the Find My app and share their location via satellite.

When users want to reassure friends and family of their whereabouts while traveling off the grid, they can open the Find My app and share their location via satellite.
Image credit Apple/Globalstar

“Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can get users the help they need while they are off the grid.”

“Our teams worked tirelessly to tackle a new set of technical challenges to bring this service to life, in addition to building a reliable on-the-ground infrastructure. Emergency SOS via satellite is a breakthrough service available only on the iPhone 14 lineup, and a new innovation that we hope will provide our customers some peace of mind,” said Joswiak.

“Providing Emergency SOS via satellite is an important breakthrough that will save lives,” added Mark Ghilarducci, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ director. “The critical work being done by Apple to create innovative new solutions to support 911 providers and first responders is a huge step forward in protecting Californians and the broader public during an emergency situation.”

Image credit Apple/Globalstar

The Emergency SOS service via satellite and Find My via satellite will be included for free for two years starting at the time of activation of a new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.4.

It requires iOS 16.1 to operate.

Globalstar investment

To achieve this, Apple teamed up with Covington, Louisiana headquartered Globalstar, a global satellite service.

Last week Apple announced it had invested $450 million in Globalstar, as part of Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

“Emergency SOS via satellite is a perfect example of how American ingenuity and technology can save lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

“We are proud this service is enabled by leading US companies, and that our users can explore off-the-grid areas knowing they are still within reach of emergency services if they are in need,” said Williams.

When an iPhone user makes an Emergency SOS via satellite request, the message is received by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-earth orbit traveling at speeds of approximately 16,000 mph.

Emergency SOS via satellite enables users to message with emergency services while outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. . Image credit Apple/Globalstar
With Emergency SOS via satellite, users can send and receive messages in as little as 15 seconds in clear conditions.
Image credit Apple/Globalstar

The satellite then sends the message down to custom ground stations located at key points all over the world.

Globalstar operates an advanced satellite network and ground stations across the US and around the world, providing iPhone 14 users the ability to contact lifesaving emergency services when outside of cellular and Wi-Fi connection range.
Image credit Apple/Globalstar

Once received by a ground station, the message is routed to emergency services that can dispatch help, or a relay centre with Apple-trained emergency specialists if local emergency services cannot receive text messages.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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