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Rumors of satellite features for future iPhones are for emergency use only, according to Bloomberg Marc Gurman. A few days ago, a report by famous analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the next iPhones will support low-earth orbit satellite calls and messages. Gurman’s sources said, however, that Apple is not turning its devices into full-fledged satellite phones, at least for now. Instead, the tech giant would develop at least two emergency-related features that rely on satellite networks.

The first feature is called Emergency Message via Satellite and will be added as a third protocol, alongside iMessage and SMS, to the Messages app. It apparently goes by the code name Stewie inside the company and will allow users to text emergency services even in the absence of a signal, which seems particularly useful in an emergency in remote places, such as mountains and forests.

The tool will also give users a way to send an SMS to their emergency contacts simply by typing Emergency SOS in the recipient line. Messages will be limited to a shorter length, but the senders’ contacts will receive a notification for them even if their phone is set to Do Not Disturb. Satellite messages will appear as gray bubbles instead of blue or green so they can be easily identified. Eventually, the feature could also handle phone calls.

Apple is also reportedly working on a second satellite feature that will allow users to report crisis situations such as plane crashes and fires. This system will give users a way to report the incident in detail and ask them for details, for example if someone needs search and rescue services or if someone nearby is armed. It can also automatically send the journalist’s location and contact details from the Health app to authorities, such as medical history, age, medication, and information such as height and weight. The function can also notify the journalist’s emergency contacts for them.

While both features seem useful, their availability is limited by the location and range of the satellite. They may not work in some areas, and in some cases, users may have to walk outside in a certain direction where their iPhone can connect to a satellite. Additionally, Gurman’s sources said that features are unlikely to be ready until the end of the year, which means the next iPhones due to be announced in September will not yet be able to send satellite messages. .

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.


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