Apple plans to let you connect your iPhone to satellites so you can contact emergency services in areas that don’t have cellular coverage, according to a new Bloomberg report. Bloomberg’s article was published after Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said on Sunday that the iPhone 13 may be able to make satellite calls. Kuo often reveals details about Apple’s plans before the company officially announces them, but Bloomberg’s sources indicate that Apple’s approach to iPhone satellite connectivity may be more limited to begin with.
One feature, called Emergency Notification via Satellite, lets you text emergency services and emergency contacts when you don’t have a mobile signal by using a satellite network, according to Bloomberg. These messages have a maximum length and appear as a gray bubble instead of the green one used for text messages and the blue one used for iMessages. And when you send one of these messages to an emergency contact, it will reportedly continue even if Do Not Disturb mode is turned on, which can cause your message to be seen.
Another feature allows users to report emergencies. “The phone will ask what kind of emergency is going on, for example whether it is a car, boat, plane or fire”, Bloomberg reports. You can also send information such as your location and your Medical ID (which you can set in the Health app). You may also be able to notify emergency contacts at the time of reporting an emergency.
Bloomberg reports that the next iPhone may have the necessary hardware to make satellite calls. But a source tells Bloomberg that the new features probably won’t be ready before next year, with cold water on the idea that you could use them once you buy the next iPhone.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The new satellite connectivity features, when released, could eliminate the fear of contacting emergency services in an emergency or when you’re away from a cellular network. There is also the possibility that the features could provide another way to contact emergency services in the event of 911 outages, which occur occasionally.