Apple rolls out emergency SOS feature for iPhone 14

Users can call for help when off the grid, and also share their location when not in a critical situation

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Apple has launched its new SOS via satellite feature for iPhone 14 models.

The feature was announced during the launch of the iPhone 14 in September and enables users to message the emergency services while outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

It will initially be available to customers in the US and Canada and will be extended to France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK in December.

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

“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 line-up, and a new innovation that we hope will provide our customers some peace of mind.”

The iPhone 14 connects directly to a satellite through a combination of custom-designed components and deeply integrated software.

Users will be connected directly to emergency services that are equipped to receive text messages, or to relay centres with Apple-trained emergency specialists who are ready to contact Public Safety Answering Points that cannot receive text messages on the user’s behalf.

A text compression algorithm was developed to reduce the average size of messages by 300 per cent, making the experience as fast as possible, Apple said.

With Emergency SOS via satellite, users can send and receive messages in 15 seconds in clear conditions.

Using the built-in Emergency SOS via satellite demo, users can test satellite connectivity on their iPhone by connecting to a real satellite in range without calling the emergency services, allowing them to experience the process and familiarise themselves with the service.

For users who go off the grid but do not experience an emergency, the new technology enables them to share their location via satellite with Find My.

In the Find My app, users can open the Me tab, swipe up to see My Location via Satellite, and press Send My Location. The satellite connection on the iPhone 14 line-up also works with other safety features available on iPhone and Apple Watch, including Crash Detection and Fall Detection.

The crash-detection feature allows a device to automatically dial the emergency services when a user is unconscious or unable to reach their device.

Updated: November 16, 2022, 6:11 PM