Apple releases satellite-based emergency SOS feature in Australia and New Zealand

Apple made its emergency satellite communication features available to users in Australia and New Zealand on Monday. The company said that users with iPhone 14 in the region can contact emergency services and share their location with friends and family in places with no cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity.

The iPhone maker announced the service with the iPhone 14 launch last September and first rolled it out in the U.S. and Canada in November. Since then the service has expanded to 12 countries with two more being added today.

Apple said that emergency communication through satellite features could be activated by rapidly tapping the power button five times, holding the power and a volume button, or dialing 000. If a user doesn’t have any connectivity, the system will guide them to use satellite communications by answering a short questionnaire about the emergency. This info along with the location is sent to dispatchers intimating them about the situation.

The system also guides users to point the iPhone in the direction of the satellite to send a message. The company said because of the low bandwidth of the satellite communications, Apple compresses the message by 3x so it could be sent quickly.

Plus, if you are on an off-the-grid hike and want to inform your family about your location, you can share it through the Find My app even if you are not connected to a cellular or a Wi-Fi network. To do that, open the “Me” tab and select “Send My Location” under the “My Location via Satellite” section.

“Australians know full well the importance of remaining connected in regional, rural, and remote areas, particularly when they need emergency services. The ability to contact Triple Zero with Emergency SOS via satellite when there is no mobile coverage is a strong backup to keep Australians connected in an emergency,”  Australia’s minister of communications, Michelle Rowland, said in a statement.

“This will go a long way in helping emergency services respond to, protect, and ultimately, keep individuals safe from harm. Australians are encouraged to familiarise themselves with this feature and whether their device supports it.”

While Apple has expanded its satellite communication feature to 14 countries, rival phone makers like Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi are also set to debut this feature in their devices soon.

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