Probably the biggest new features for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus isn’t one you’ll use ever day, but you’ll be glad you have it if you need it. The new phone has a built-in satellite connection that people can use to send emergency SOS messages in places where there’s no available cellular signal.
First, your iPhone will help you orient your phone in the direction you need to point it to get the best signal. Once you have a connection, you can open up a message interface that lets you communicate with emergency service providers. Apple says that because of satellite connectivity limits, it’ll take much longer to send messages than you’re used to, so the feature includes some automatic questions it prompts you to answer, like “is anyone hurt?” It’ll have auto-populated answers that you can tap to respond. Apple is also compressing messages to a third their normal size to make sending them a little quicker.
Apple say that once the message it sent to the satellite, it then gets sent to emergency response centers; if those centers are only set up for voice calls, they’ll first be routed to a response center that’ll then get in touch with emergency response.
This feature will be included for free for two years with all iPhone 14 and 14 Pro models; it’s not clear how much it’ll cost after that. For people who are frequently away from cellular signals — perhaps the same people who are looking at an Apple Watch Ultra — this feature could be extremely useful in a tough spot.
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