New iPhone feature could save your life – how to use it to stay safe
A LIFE-SAVING iPhone feature may be just days from being switched on.
Apple documents suggest that the long-awaited Emergency SOS via Satellite will be activated very soon.
It lets you get in touch with emergency services when you’ve got no regular phone signal.
In an Apple support document spotted by MacRumors, Apple said that the feature would “be available with an iOS 16 software update coming in November 2022”.
The latest version is iOS 16.1, which came out in late October – and iOS 16.2 should follow in December.
So Apple watchers expect that we’ll get the new feature in iOS 16.1.1, which is already being tested.
The new Emergency SOS via satellite feature may be included in the update, but that’s not been confirmed.
Apple says the iPhone 14’s satellite features are expected to go live in November.
What is Emergency SOS via satellite?
Emergency SOS via satellite was one of Apple’s headline features on the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.
“Emergency SOS via satellite can help you connect with emergency services under exceptional circumstances when no other means of reaching emergency services are available,” Apple explained.
“If you call or text emergency services and can’t connect because you’re outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, your iPhone tries to connect you via satellite to the help that you need.”
Using a satellite connection isn’t like sending a regular text.
For instance, it can take 15 seconds to send a message even in ideal conditions where you have a direct view of the sky and the horizon.
It could take over a minute if you’re under trees with light foliage.
And if the view is heavily obstructed, it might not be possible to send a message at all.
Apple’s tips for connecting to a satellite
Here are Apple’s official tips:
- Hold your phone naturally in your hand. You don’t need to raise your arm or hold your phone up, but don’t put it in a pocket or backpack.
- Make sure that you’re outside with a clear view of the sky and the horizon.
- Be aware that trees with light foliage might slow down the connection, and dense foliage might block it. Hills or mountains, canyons, and tall structures can also block the connection.
- In case you need to turn left or right or move to avoid a blocked signal, your iPhone provides guidance—just follow the onscreen instructions.
- The satellite connection can be maintained even if your phone screen is locked.
How does Emergency SOS via satellite work?
First, you need to make sure you’re using an iPhone 14 model.
It won’t work as a feature until a new iOS update arrives in November 2022.
And you’ll need to be somewhere with no cellular or WiFi coverage.
The feature is currently only set to work in the US (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Canada.
If you’re an international traveller visiting the US or Canada, the feature will work unless you bought an iPhone in China, Hong Kong or Macao.
The feature might also be blocked in places above 62° latitude – like very north parts of Canada and Alaska.
To use it, you’ll need to try to call emergency services.
If it won’t connect, you’ll get an option to send an Emergency Text via Satellite.
You then tap Report Emergency, and then choose from several options to describe your emergency.
The feature will let you notify your emergency contacts as well as emergency services – and it will share your location.
Your iPhone will then guide you through the process of connecting to a satellite.
Once a connection is achieved, follow the rest of the on-screen instructions to send your message.
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