Apple takes on Musk’s SpaceX with its satellite SOS on iPhones

Apple, which has collaborated with American satellite communications company Globalstar for emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14 series, is going to become a key rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in providing satellite-based communications to devices.

Apple is reportedly investing $450 million toward creating satellite infrastructure with Globalstar.

The tech giant has also agreed to pay for 95 per cent of the costs for new satellites associated with the feature, reports The Verge, quoting from a US SEC filing.

Apple plans to use Globalstar’s 24-satellite constellation to run its emergency SOS via satellite service.

The move comes as telecom carrier T-Mobile has partnered SpaceX to create its own emergency communications service.

Musk also tweeted: “We’ve had some promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity. iPhone team is obviously super smart”.

He added that “closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower”.

During its iPhone 14 launch event, Apple made it clear that ita¿s going to be involved with the satellite emergency response system.

“We’ve set up relay centres staffed with highly-trained emergency specialists ready to get your texts and call an emergency service provider on your behalf,” according to Ashley Williams, the company’s manager of satellite modelling and simulation.

The emergency SOS via satellite feature combines custom components deeply integrated with software to allow antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.

Satellites are moving targets with low bandwidth, and it can take minutes for messages to get through.

Since every second counts, with emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone front-loads a few vital questions to assess the user’s situation and shows them where to point their phone to connect to a satellite, according to Apple.

This breakthrough technology also allows users to manually share their location over satellite with Find My when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi connection, providing a sense of security when hiking or camping off the grid.

“Emergency SOS via satellite will be available to users in the US and Canada in November, and the service will be free for two years,” said Apple.

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