Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature on the iPhone 14 line was launched in November, but it was only available in the US and Canada.
Now Apple has extended this to several European countries: France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The feature, which is only available on the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, allows users to send an emergency SOS message via satellite even when there is absolutely no other connectivity.
We tested it (twice) in a controlled environment, and it really works. It forces the user to call 911, and when the call doesn’t go through, the option to send an emergency text via satellite appears. The user must then answer a short survey, explaining the nature of their emergency, and point the phone skyward to transmit the message to a satellite. When I tried it, it took seconds to send the message, and my colleague Cecily had a similar experience.
The feature can also be used to share the user’s location through Apple’s Find My app.
For this feature, Apple has partnered with satellite communications company Globalstar, and it can theoretically work anywhere in the world. The company says support for other countries will follow “next year”.
Although Satellite Emergency SOS is free for everyone right now, it might not be forever. Apple says the service is free for two years after activating a new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.