Rumors began to circulate last year that the iPhone 13 would be able to communicate with satellites.
There is speculation that the next iPhone will include the capability to send short texts to emergency contacts when the phone is out of cell service range, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman now says that the new Apple Watch may also have this extra feature.
“The Apple Watch is bound to receive that feature,” Gurman writes in his Power On email, but he believes Apple’s timescale maybe this year or 2023.
Whether it’s on the iPhone or Apple Watch, the technology would provide an alternative to the Garmin inReach Explorer and SPOT, handheld satellite communicators with similar features.
There have been signs lately that Apple and its apparent satellite partner Globalstar Inc. might be getting closer to launching such a feature. In February, Globalstar said it reached an agreement to buy 17 new satellites to help power ’continuous satellite services’ for a ’potential’– and unnamed – cusstomer that had paid it hundreds of millions of dollars.
We’d expect this capability to appear on the normal model and the rugged Apple Watch, given that Apple is expected to release three new models of the Apple Watch this year: a new SE and an entirely new watch designed for extreme sports.
Despite Gurman’s claims last year that the hardware wasn’t ready for the new iPhones, he now appears to have changed his tune.
In the end, even if the functionality is released this year, it will most certainly remain limited to a few markets. In August 2021, he wrote this:
The emergency features will only work in areas without any cellular coverage and only in select markets. Apple envisions eventually deploying its own array of satellites to beam data to devices, but that plan is likely years away from taking off.