November 16 update below. This post was first published on November 15, 2023.
When Apple launched the iPhone 14 series, it brought with it a major new feature: emergency SOS via satellite. It came with two years of free access, and Apple has just made a surprise announcement: iPhone 14 users can get an additional year of free access.
The service, which allows users to contact emergency services when there is no cellular connection, went live a year ago today. This means that anyone who has an iPhone 14 will have one year of free trial access left by now.
This has just been extended by one year, so, provided you had an activated iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max before today, you now have two years of access again.
It’s also available for all iPhone 15 series models, as well as a two-year free trial from the moment it’s activated for those phones.
It’s not universally available, but it’s now in 16 countries and territories, Apple says, including the US, UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal is included. Spain and Switzerland.
This means that if you go off-grid and, God forbid, get into difficulties, you can try sending an SOS message via satellite.
This is a very clever system. After all, satellites aren’t visible to the naked eye, so how do you point to them?
Luckily Apple thought about this. Providing a clear view of the sky if you’re outside, you can use its software and GPS information to guide you where you should point. Once you make contact, iPhone starts the conversation by text message and shares your location with emergency responders as well as letting your emergency contacts know where you are.
In the US, Apple also introduced roadside assistance via satellite “to connect users to emergency services when they have car trouble outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.”
Outside of emergency situations, the Find My app can be used to share your location with friends and family when you’re out of cellular connection range.
Apple says the service has helped save lives in its first year of operation, including “a man in Los Angeles who was saved after his car fell off a 400-foot cliff.”
Today’s announcement means anyone with an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 can get the service for free for almost two years.
Update of 16 November. Reaction to the above news has been widespread. The one-year extension in the free provision of access to Emergency SOS via satellite has been welcomed by many, and appreciated by others.
an analystian foggX, east was posted on Twitter, stated, “The free satellite is not surprised to extend the emergency message for another year because it is a difficult service to charge for it – who is a strict need of help Will deny because they haven’t paid?” I see the logic of it, but I suspect there are some ways to avoid it without being heartless. That said, regular headlines about life-saving iPhones are very valuable to Apple.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman Asks if it’s just that Apple hasn’t solved its charging yet: “I wonder if expanding free Satellite SOS on the iPhone 14 is as simple as Apple not finalizing a monetization strategy Is. Building that backend to charge people + implementing it into iOS and possibly integrating it into the Apple One bundle is a surprisingly long process. I find this disjointed. After all, there’s still another year to go before any costs are recouped. Even though progress has been slow, I wonder if Apple will conclude that it will take another year or more to resolve this.
More likely, I’d say, is the idea that Apple has big plans for satellite connectivity and is working on it. When Apple introduced Touch ID, it knew it was the precursor to Apple Pay. The company has already increased satellite capacity in the US by providing connection AAA for breakdowns. It may have more up its sleeve.
More details may be leaked, so please check back.