Test Apple’s New Emergency SOS via satellite feature

Apple today officially launched the Emergency SOS feature via satellite available for iPhone 14 models, so we thought we’d test it out to see how it works.

Emergency SOS via Satellite is designed to allow users to contact emergency services when no cellular or WiFi connection is available, such as when hiking, camping, or driving in remote areas.

It’s a feature that’s only available to use when you don’t have a connection and try to make a phone call or send a text, but Apple has an experimental feature built in so users can familiarize themselves with it without having to place an emergency call.

Under Settings > Emergency SOS, there’s a new Emergency SOS satellite section with the option to “Try a Demo”.

For quick help, the Emergency SOS Satellite Service starts by asking a series of questions about your condition, such as if you’ve been lost, been in an accident, or been injured. This information, along with your Medical ID (if activated) and location is sent to the local emergency services.

If the local emergency services location accepts the text messages, the information is sent directly, and if not, it goes through a relay center with Apple-trained operators passing the information along with them.

Details are sent through a text messaging interface that allows emergency responders to text you back and forth to get the information needed for a rescue. If you’ve been in a car accident, for example, rescuers may ask for more details about the location, the iPhone’s battery level, what happened, and whether you’re in immediate danger of gas or liquid spills.

The satellite SOS emergency service is intended to operate outdoors with a clear view of the sky, and this facilitates better communication. It can send bite-sized texts in just 15 seconds if you have a clear view, and iPhone‌ guides you where to hold your iPhone‌ for the best connection.

You’ll see directions to turn left or right for a satellite connection, and you’ll be alerted on screen when you have a poor connection and steps you can take to improve it, such as moving to a place with a better view of the sky.

If there isn’t a solid connection, it can take several minutes to send texts back and forth, but the ‌iPhone‌ aims to point you to an ideal location for communication. Satellite Emergency SOS is limited to emergency texts with emergency responders, and cannot be used to send text messages to friends and family.

However, this feature can alert your emergency contacts if you’re calling for help via satellite, and can also be used to update your location via Find My when you don’t have a cellular or WiFi connection. When no connection is available, you will see an option to update your location through the “My Satellite Location” feature under the Me tab of the Find My app‌.

Emergency SOS via satellite is available on all iPhone 14 models, and is rolling out today. You need to be running iOS 16.1 or later to use this feature, no software update is required. The Emergency SOS service is available via satellite in the US and Canada right now, and is expanding to France, Germany, Ireland and the UK in December.

You can use Emergency SOS via satellite for free as of now, and Apple has said that it will be available for free to all iPhone 14 owners for two years. No word yet on the cost when that two-year period ends.

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