Half a dozen additional European countries will soon gain access to the iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via satellite feature. It was already available in six countries around the world.
It allows users away from cellular networks to reach out for help from almost anywhere … as long as the local emergency services are prepared for the satellite service.
iPhone 14 can reach help from remote locations
In remote areas, Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature allows the latest iOS handsets to connect to a satellite and share important information with friends, family and emergency responders. It works with all four iPhone 14 models, and already has been credited with speeding the rescues of people stranded in the far reaches of Alaska and the Canadian wilderness.
The service debuted last autumn in the United States and Canada, then became available in four European countries in December. And Emergency SOS via satellite will come to Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal before the end of March, Apple announced Tuesday.
Availability is expanding slowly because the iPhone doesn’t communicate directly with emergency responders. An iOS application asks the user questions to assess their condition. Apple employees then relay this information to emergency services, along with the user’s location. This two-step approach is necessary because satellite connectivity has very limited bandwidth.
More about the iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via satellite feature
Satellite phones traditionally require bulky external antennas, something iPhone 14 series obviously does not have. Apple compensated with a clever workaround. The Emergency SOS app shows users exactly where they need to point their iPhones in order to connect with a satellite in low-Earth orbit. (To ensure your iPhone can connect to a satellite, it must be outside with a clear view of the sky.)
Under the right conditions, your iPhone can connect to first responders using Emergency SOS via satellite in 15 seconds. Apple provides a demo to test the feature. You can find this option in the Emergency SOS app.
Satellite communications also can allow users to manually share their location with Apple’s Find My service when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Friends or family will be able to see the location in the Find My app.
The emergency messaging service 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 or iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apple has not yet announced what the cost will be after two years.