Have You Used Your iPhone’s Emergency SOS Feature Yet?

Credit: Tech Radar
  • The Emergency SOS service is very slow, taking up to a minute or more to send a text message to space.
  • Your average cell phone tower is at most a few miles away.
  • It’s a tiny target in space, which is why the iPhone helps you aim at the proper location in the sky and follow the path of the satellite through the duration of your session.
  • Even if you use Emergency SOS to update the Find My feature on your devices with your current location, the location data is kept private.

The iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature, which enables the device to connect to satellites for emergency services, has at last been activated, keeping up with Apple’s launch promise. Users can test out the service on their iPhones without really engaging in an expensive rescue because it is initially only available in the US and Canada.

Emergency SOS

Your iPhone 14 family device can show you how the Emergency SOS service operates if you’d want to check it out for yourself. Navigate to Settings and select the Emergency SOS menu.

You should notice the “Emergency SOS via Satellite” section at the bottom of this menu. To begin the demo procedure, click the “Try Demo” link. Your cellular service will actually be turned off while the iPhone does a satellite scan in the sky for the demonstration.

Here’s what happens when you need it

Lance Ulanoff, the editor-in-chief, went outside to test the Emergency SOS as it became live. We were unable to see the satellite well from our offices in a New York City skyscraper, but that’s okay because we don’t need to. Really, the only time the Emergency SOS option is preferred is when there is no cell service. Apple advises choosing to connect to a data network or make a voice call if those options are available.

Sending a text message to space using the Emergency SOS service can take up to a minute or more. It uses prewritten scripts to allow you to quickly report an emergency without sending a lot of data.

The initial query will inquire as to what kind of emergency you’re experiencing, giving you the option of a car problem, illness or injury, a fire, or being lost or trapped. For example, if you select a vehicle-related problem, you will be asked additional questions regarding how many individuals were involved, the immediate surroundings, and anything else that will assist rescuers to get ready to save you.

The iPhone will follow the satellite while you are managing the communication and will direct you as to which way to face it. If it needs a stronger signal or to search for a new satellite, it will instruct you to turn left or right.

Your emergency broadcast will be transmitted through Apple’s own service, and Apple can determine whether or not emergency services can receive text messages and the digital information the iPhone delivers by speaking with emergency providers. Instead of just establishing a direct link between your phone and emergency service providers, Apple serves as an intermediary.

That satellite is very, very far away

If you assumed that every time you make a call on your iPhone, it is already communicating with a satellite, you are greatly mistaken. At most a few kilometres separate you from the typical cell phone tower. Although there is a theoretical limit of about 45 miles for mobile reception, in practice carriers build towers such that you may access a handful within miles of your location.

The Emergency SOS satellite that the iPhone uses is 850 miles above the surface of the planet. The iPhone assists you in aiming at the right spot in the sky and following the passage of the satellite during your session because it is a small target in space.

End-to-end encryption

Notably, Apple claims that complete encryption is used on both ends of every piece of data received during an Emergency SOS session. The location information is kept private even if you utilise Emergency SOS to update the Find My function on your devices with your current position.

Owners of qualifying devices, like the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Plus, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, will not have to pay for the service for at least the first two years. The service is already available in the US and Canada and will be available by the end of the year in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and France.

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Source: Tech Radar


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