Last week’s report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of this year’s iPhone having satellite communication capabilities got Apple fans salivating. However, a new report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that this feature will only work in certain countries, diminishing its reliability in times of crisis. The report also says that satellite phone calls won’t be possible but instead would feature sending messages using the modified Qualcomm X60 modem chip.
Gurman, who AppleTrack deems as 88.8% accurate about Apple leaks, revealed in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter that the emergency feature will only work in selected areas without any cellular coverage. That being said, he also claims Apple eventually plans to deploy “its own array of satellites to beam data to devices” which is something the journalist predicted back in 2019.
While some speculated that the satellite feature, purportedly powered by Globalstar, would include emergency calls, Gurman clarified that this won’t be possible any time soon due to technological limitations. Additionally, he opines that Apple would not risk upsetting its phone carrier partners by implementing the ability to make calls without cellular service.
Instead of satellite calls, the feature will have two emergency-related features. The first is called Emergency Message via Satellite that will be implemented as a third protocol in the Messages app and will appear with grey message bubbles instead of green or blue. Codenamed Stewie, it will allow users to text emergency services in places where there is no signal such as remote locations in mountains and forests. Apple plans to limit the text length and will automatically push through to an emergency contact’s phone, even if Do Not Disturb mode is turned on.
The second emergency feature lets users report a crisis and specify what kind, such as whether it involves a car, boat, plane, or fire. “It will ask a user if search and rescue services are needed, if there is suspicious behaviour or weapons involved, and if a person has suffered a traumatic injury,” said Gurman.
Linking to a satellite network won’t be instantaneous, as users will have to be outdoors and wait a minute for it to connect. Gurman’s sources say that it is unlikely that this technology would be ready by this year, meaning we probably won’t see it in the iPhone 13.