iPhone 14 satellite SOS now enabled in the US in Canada , coming to parts of Europe next month
Starting today, iPhone 14 owners in the US and Canada can use Emergency SOS via the satellite feature. Next month, owners in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK will be able to do the same.
The feature allows you to get in touch with emergency services even in areas without cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. This could be somewhere out in the desert, or it could be in the heart of a city after a natural disaster brought down the power grid and communications.
The way this feature works is you answer a short questionnaire with vital information – what kind of emergency it is, how many people need help and further details. These will be transmitted directly to emergency services that can receive text, or one of Apple’s centers will make a call on your behalf to those that cannot.
You can send and receive additional messages to clarify the situation and help rescuers. Because satellite data has low bandwidth, Apple developed a compression that squeezes text 300%. The phone still needs about 15 seconds to send a message (more if you don’t have a clear view of the sky).
In addition to the questionnaire, the iPhone can also send your Medial ID if you have it set up. This describes various health conditions you have so first responders will be aware of any potential problems (eg allergies to certain medications). You can also have up to 10 iMessage emergency contacts who will receive a transcript of your emergency message sent over satellite to keep them informed of the situation.
The phone will guide you through the process of connecting to a satellite, which requires some manual aiming. There’s a demo mode that lets you practice so you’re ready for actual emergencies.
Another way to use satellite connectivity without an emergency is to share your location with friends and family using Find My’s new feature. This and Emergency SOS are available on all four models: iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. You must be running iOS 16.1 or later to use the satellite features. Note that models purchased from China, Hong Kong or Macao do not support these features. This may not work above 62° latitude. More details here.
If you bought your iPhone 14 before the launch of the satellite SOS service, you have 2 years of service for free. We still don’t know how much the subscription will cost after that.