Apple has started to roll out its iPhone 14 satellite feature to other countries outside of North America with the UK, Ireland and Germany first to get it in Europe. The feature enables you to get coverage when cellular or Wi-Fi access is non-existent – a surprisingly regular occurrence if you live anywhere in the UK outside of the South East of England.
You can also use the Find My app to share your location with others via satellite if you think people will be worried about.
The feature is called Emergency SOS via satellite – it connects you to relay centres that can contact emergency services should you need. You’ll need iOS 16.1 or later and the service is free for two years after you register your iPhone (so you’ll be trading your phone in before the free satellite support expires most likely).
If you don’t have a cellular connection then a special user interface appears (above, below) that’ll help you get a satellite connection. You get a short questionnaire which is transmitted to dispatchers in the initial message so you can alert help if you need it. You’re then guided where to point your iPhone (just like your Sky dish, your iPhone needs to point at the satellite) to get connected.
“Emergency SOS via satellite makes emergency communications over satellite more accessible, which is very exciting,” said Gary Machado, head of the European Emergency Number Association. “In practice, it means that many more people will be able to contact 112 [or 999 in the UK] when they have no mobile coverage and need urgent assistance. We are confident that this will save many lives and offer significant help to emergency services dealing with these often very complicated rescues.”
John Anthony, head of the British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials adds. “The feature will mean that emergency services can be alerted when it was not previously possible and are then able to do their jobs to better effect, in part because of the initial information that can be shared with dispatchers, such as location and essential details about the emergency. Ultimately, this will help save lives.”
The feature is available on all the iPhone 14 range from today. Support for more countries will follow next year.