According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the rumored future iPhones will have satellite features that are only for emergencies. Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known analyst, reported that the next iPhones would support Low Earth Orbit satellite calls. However, Gurmans sources claim that Apple is not making its devices satellite phones for the time being. According to reports, Apple is developing at least two emergency-related features that rely on satellite networks.
Emergency Message via satellite is the first feature. It will be added to the Messages app as a third protocol along with SMS and iMessage. The company has given it the codename Stewie. It will allow users to send emergency messages even if there is no signal. This feature can be especially helpful in emergencies that occur in remote areas such as mountains or forests.
Users will be able to send an emergency message to their contacts by simply typing Emergency SOS into the recipient line. Although messages will be limited to a shorter duration, the sender's contacts will still receive a notification even if they have their phone set to Do not Disturb. Satellite messages will be identified by gray bubbles rather than blue or green. The feature will eventually be able to handle phone calls.
Apple is also working on a second satellite feature to allow users to report emergency situations such as plane crashes or fires. The system will allow users to quickly report an incident and ask specific questions, such as whether anyone in the area is armed or needing search-and rescue services. It can send authorities their location and details from the Health App, including their medical history, age, medications, and information such as height and weight. It can also notify reporters of emergency contacts.
Both features sound great, but their availability and reach are limited by satellite location. Some features may not be available in certain regions. In some cases, users might need to walk outside in order to connect to a satellite. Gurmans sources also said that it is unlikely that these features will be available before the year ends. This means that the next iPhones, expected to be announced in September, won't be able send messages via satellite.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.