Emergency SOS via satellite, iPhone 14 a feature that allows the phone to connect to satellites for emergency services has finally launched, delivering on Apple’s launch promise. The service is available first in the US and Canada, and users can try a demo of the service on their iPhone without getting involved in a costly rescue.
If you want to try the Emergency SOS demo yourself, your iPhone 14 family device can show you how it works. Go to Settings, then scroll down to the Emergency SOS menu.
At the bottom of this menu, you should see the paragraph “Emergency SOS via Satellite”. You can click on the “Try Demo” link to start the demo process. In the demo, the iPhone will actually turn off your cellular service as it searches the sky for an available satellite.
Here’s what happens when you need it
Our editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff stepped outside and tried emergency SOS via satellite how did it go live. We couldn’t get a clear satellite view from our offices in New York skyscrapers, which is fine because we don’t need it. The Emergency SOS feature is only really preferable when you don’t have cellular service available. Apple says if you can make a voice call or connect to a data network, you should.
The Emergency SOS service is very slow, it takes at least a minute to send a text message into space. It is based on ready-made scripts that help to quickly report a failure without having to send too much data.
The first question deals with the type of emergency, offering a choice between a problem with the vehicle, illness or injury, fire or being lost or trapped. For example, if you select a vehicle problem, you will be asked further questions about the number of people involved, the current environment, and anything to help rescuers prepare to rescue you.
While you communicate, iPhone will track the satellite and tell you where to go. It will tell you to turn left or right if it needs a better signal or find a new satellite.
Your emergency message will be sent via Apple’s own service, and Apple can talk to emergency service providers whether or not they are able to receive text messages and digital information provided by the iPhone. Apple acts as an intermediary, it doesn’t just establish a direct connection between your phone and the emergency services.
This satellite is very, very far away
If you thought your iPhone was already talking to satellite every time you made a call, you’re miles away. Your average cell phone tower is only a few miles away at most. The theoretical maximum cellular reception range is around 45 miles, but in reality carriers put up towers to make sure you have access to a few within miles of where you are.
The satellite used by the iPhone for Emergency SOS is 850 miles above the ground. It’s a small target in space, so iPhone helps you aim at the right spot in the sky and follow the satellite’s path for the duration of your session.
It’s worth noting that Apple says all data sent during an Emergency SOS session is fully encrypted at both ends. Even if you use Emergency SOS to update Find My on your current location devices, your location data remains private.
Apple says the service will be free for owners with eligible devices, including the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max, for at least the first two years. The service is already available in the US and Canada, and will be available in the UK, Ireland, Germany and France by the end of the year.