SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the company has had discussions with Apple about providing satellite connectivity for the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS feature via satellite.
The iPhone 14 is the first model to connect to a terrestrial cellular network, Wi-Fi, and also to satellites, thanks to the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature introduced at Apple’s Far Out event.
The iPhone 14’s satellite feature is for emergencies only and only supports text messages, not calls, with messages being delayed by about 15 seconds. Apple’s SOS app, built into iOS 16, shows users where to point the iPhone to get a satellite connection and facilitates SOS communications. Users can also share their location with the Find My feature via satellite.
SEE: Here’s everything Apple announced during its “Far Out” event.
iPhone 14 users should keep the iPhone pointed at the satellite for 15 seconds when the sky is clear, and for several minutes if the view is blocked by trees or terrain. It launched in November in the US and Canada and will be free for the first two years.
Apple has nominated satellite operator Globalstar to manage the ultra-narrow bandwidth iPhone 14 SOS messaging service.
But now Musk has responded to a question on Twitter about the possibility of Apple working with Starlink to provide connectivity for the feature.
“We’ve had some promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity. The iPhone team is obviously super smart.” Musk wrote.
“Certainly closing the link from space to the phone would work best if the phone’s software and hardware adapted to space-based signals against Starlink, a fully emulating cell tower.”
After Apple announced the satellite service for the iPhone 14, Globalstar published an SEC statement stating that Apple has agreed to pay “95% of the approved capital expenditures that Globalstar makes in connection with the new satellites.”
This is a very different service to Starlink’s satellite broadband, which aims to offer high-speed, low-latency broadband.
T-Mobile recently struck a deal with SpaceX to patch mobile “dead zones” in the US. Instead of relying on Starlink user terminals, T-mobile will use its existing mobile phone midrange spectrum to connect to Starlink satellites. Its second-generation satellites will then beam directly to mobile phones.