Apple's Emergency SOS is coming in November, after $450M investment

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2022
Apple has announced that its new iPhone 14 Emergency SOS by satellite is launching "later this month" in the US and Canada, and revealed that creating the service has so far cost $450 million in facilities, technology, and staff.




The new Emergency Service works by enabling stranded users to send a text message calling for help via a network of satellites. Apple has already revealed how this required a whole network of satellites, plus a series of call centers staffed across the US and Canada.

Now it's announced that the funding from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which has previously been used to help create the Ceramic Shield, and to introduce hundreds of jobs.

"Emergency SOS via satellite is a perfect example of how American ingenuity and technology can save lives," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We are proud this service is enabled by leading US companies, and that our users can explore off-the-grid areas knowing they are still within reach of emergency services if they are in need."

Apple says that "a majority of the funding goes to Globalstar," which owns and operates the satellite network. Reportedly, more than 300 staff are employed at Globalstar, specifically to support Apple's new service.

"The launch of Emergency SOS via satellite direct to iPhone is a generational advancement in satellite communications," Globalstar executive chairman Jay Monroe said in the statement, "and we are proud that Globalstar's satellites and spectrum assets will play a central role in saving lives."

"With Apple's infrastructure investment, we've grown our teams in California and elsewhere to construct, expand, and upgrade our ground stations," continued Monroe, "and we look forward to the next chapter in Globalstar's lifesaving technology."

The infrastructure investment included creating new ground stations in Nevada and Hawaii, plus adding new antennas to all Globalstar facilities. These high-power antennas were designed and manufactured specifically for Apple by Cobham Satcom, based in Concord, California.

Previously, Apple has said only that the service will launch in the US and Canada by the end of the year. The new announcement confirms recent rumors that it will be later in November 2022.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    This is a pretty amazing feature that I expect will always be a money loser.  I thought Apple was relying entirely on an existing service and simply building in the antennas and software to access it.  Although all owners of new iPhones can take comfort in having this rescue feature available, hardly anyone should need to use it, thankfully.
    starof80jas99dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,556member

    Apple's Emergency SOS is coming in November, cost $450M


    My warped mind immediately thought, “Per Call? Wow I’d really have to be in trouble before Id use that”😂
    edited November 2022 bageljoeybala1234darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,494member
    williamh said:
    This is a pretty amazing feature that I expect will always be a money loser.  I thought Apple was relying entirely on an existing service and simply building in the antennas and software to access it.  Although all owners of new iPhones can take comfort in having this rescue feature available, hardly anyone should need to use it, thankfully.
    The EU will claim otherwise and want a piece of it….
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 1,029member
    After the free 2 years, what will the subscription cost? Or will you have to buy a new iPhone to keep this feature?
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    Any rumors of this SOS feature going into iPads?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    ajmasajmas Posts: 590member
    williamh said:
    This is a pretty amazing feature that I expect will always be a money loser.  I thought Apple was relying entirely on an existing service and simply building in the antennas and software to access it.  Although all owners of new iPhones can take comfort in having this rescue feature available, hardly anyone should need to use it, thankfully.
    I think the plan is to charge for it in the future (at least there is discussion on that). Also, this may be a way of experimenting with satellite technology, to eventually use them for voice communication? As the technology improves, partly motivated by this new application, others will want part of the pie and will want push to create new uses.
    edited November 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,772member
    So...it only works if you have an emergency in the US or Canada? 
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    tyler82 said:
    After the free 2 years, what will the subscription cost? Or will you have to buy a new iPhone to keep this feature?
    It's entirely possible that within too years some governments (at this point we are talking about only Canada and the US) will offer to pay Apple the full price of the service for their country, because these countries will view the service as a "national safety service." If so, Apple will never have to charge users.

    Many countries will never allow this service in their territory because it bypasses their "authoritarian information walls." Apple will likely place geofences inside iOS in order to help restrict the geoboundaries of this service, to appease those governments. Here are the next geographical areas that could qualify for Emergency SOS based on political freedom and geographical isolation:
    1. Australia and/or New Zealand
    2. The western half of Europe
    3. The southern 10% of Africa
    4. The southern and eastern half of South America
    5. Central American and northwest South America
    Most of Africa, Asia and the Middle East have so few personal freedoms that their countries will likely never agree on a satellite-based communications device that they can't monitor.
    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    I would not want to be paying a plan for a service that I may need in an unlikely event. However, a pay per call would be acceptable, or you enable it for a week or a month when you know you are going to be in the middle on nowhere.

    Satellite communication is coming. It is like the old days when mobiles were first introduced. It definitely has its enormous benefits in terms of safety but the thought that I can be contacted no matter where I am, does leave me with mixed feelings. The world is shrinking in that regards. Soon, the only remote adventure we will be able to get is a trip to another planet.

    However, for places where information is restricted, this can only be a good thing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Now the EU will mandate the network to be open to all and a standard.


    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    And I take it from the headline that this is only for emergency SOS messages; as opposed to non-emergency SOS messages?

    y'all need an editor.....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    eightzero said:
    And I take it from the headline that this is only for emergency SOS messages; as opposed to non-emergency SOS messages?

    y'all need an editor.....
    Blame Apple for the terminology: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT208076 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    macminion said:
    Any rumors of this SOS feature going into iPads?
    All iPhones have 5G transceivers. Most iPads probably don't. So it's not likely a priority for Apple. Maybe later. How many people with iPads don't own an iPhone? 

    While doing research to answer your question, I learned that Emergency SOS probably does not require the 5G mmWave frequencies, because the iPhones for sale in Canada don't include mmWave, yet Emergency SOS for iPhone 14 will be available in Canada.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,157member
    Dear AppleInsider Writers,

    Please add captions under article photos when needed to explain what we are looking at.  I haven't the faintest idea what that round white thing is, and it would be faster and easier to read a caption under the photo than Google the image.

    Thank you.

    —AppleInsider Reader
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 24
    jdw said:
    Dear AppleInsider Writers,

    Please add captions under article photos when needed to explain what we are looking at.  I haven't the faintest idea what that round white thing is, and it would be faster and easier to read a caption under the photo than Google the image.

    Thank you.

    —AppleInsider Reader
    From clicking on the links in this story you can find the image and its caption:

    "Globalstar operates an advanced satellite network and ground stations across the US and around the world, providing iPhone 14 users the ability to contact lifesaving emergency services when outside of cellular and Wi-Fi connection range."

  • Reply 16 of 24
    eightzero said:
    And I take it from the headline that this is only for emergency SOS messages; as opposed to non-emergency SOS messages?

    y'all need an editor.....
    It's Emergency SOS messages vs. Emergency SOS calls. This service is text only. Apple has Emergency SOS calling which is a different feature for different scenarios. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 24
    laytech said:
    I would not want to be paying a plan for a service that I may need in an unlikely event. However, a pay per call would be acceptable, or you enable it for a week or a month when you know you are going to be in the middle on nowhere.

    Satellite communication is coming. It is like the old days when mobiles were first introduced. It definitely has its enormous benefits in terms of safety but the thought that I can be contacted no matter where I am, does leave me with mixed feelings. The world is shrinking in that regards. Soon, the only remote adventure we will be able to get is a trip to another planet.

    However, for places where information is restricted, this can only be a good thing.
    Well, it won't be per call as it isn't a voice system. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 24
    I hope other countries are planned.  Australia in particular has vast areas without cellular coverage.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    eightzero said:
    So...it only works if you have an emergency in the US or Canada? 
    Yes, it has to integrate with regional EMS messaging services and in areas where EMS doesn't have a messaging service, it requires a relay center. I don't imagine that setting that up in two countries is a minor task. I would also hazard a guess that a relay service that is working EMS  a highly regulated space as it has serious health and safety implications. Trying to roll that out worldwide would be a massive undertaking. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 24
    I guess being safe, and being able to reach first responders, is a part of being "healthy."
    “I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ it will be about health,” Cook told Cramer.
    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/08/tim-cook-teases-new-apple-services-tied-to-health-care.html 
    watto_cobra
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