Apple aims for the sky with future iPhones - Mobile World Live

Apple aims for the sky with future iPhones

31 AUG 2021

Apple’s upcoming iPhones could include technology enabling users to communicate without using mobile services, with work underway on at least two emergency features relying on satellite networks, Bloomberg reported.

A source explained future iPhones could include emergency features allowing users to send texts to first responders and report crashes in locations lacking mobile coverage using satellite technology.

Speculation has ramped about Apple’s intentions after renowned TF International Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo suggested the company had plans to include satellite capabilities in the iPhone 13, likely to launch next month, using spectrum owned by Globalstar.

Kuo suggested a customised Qualcomm 860 baseband chip would allow users to effectively bypass mobile operator services, and use satellite spectrum through Globalstar to make calls and send texts.

In a research note, Kuo said Globalstar “was most likely to cooperate with Apple in terms of technology and service coverage”.

Emergency Message
However, Bloomberg downplayed the speculation, suggesting Apple’s immediate plans would only help users in crisis situations, available in “future iPhones”, not necessarily the next one.

It reported the iPhone 13 could have the hardware capability needed to enable satellite communications, but the features were unlikely to be ready until 2022.

One feature, dubbed Emergency Message via Satellite, would allow messages to be sent to emergency services and contacts over a satellite network when there was no mobile coverage available, and would be integrated into its messages app to run alongside iMessage and SMS.

A second feature would allow alerts to be sent for bigger crisis situations, such as major disasters.

Apple has worked on satellite technology for a number of years and has been exploring the concept on integrating it with its iPhones since 2017, added Bloomberg.

It is of, course not alone.

To name a few, the UK government put together a $1 billion package to rescue satellite provider OneWeb. Its counterparts in Canada recently committed to invest $1.2 billion in satellite provider Telesat LightSpeed and entrepreneur Elon Musk has committed to solve the world’s connectivity divide through satellite with Starlink.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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