November 26, 2022

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We tried Apple's new SOS tool for when you don't have cellular service

We tried Apple’s new SOS tool for when you don’t have cellular service



CNN Business

When Apple announced its closely watched product launch in September Event which will be presented soon SOS emergency feature Powered by a network of satellites orbiting the Earth, Brooklyn may not have been the secluded location he had in mind to use.

But on a rainy afternoon last week, I found myself trying to stay in touch with a satellite from Prospect Park as part of a demonstration of the upcoming feature. I emerged from under a giant oak tree It started to rain more. Then I moved my device slightly to the right and quickly regained access to the signal and continued messaging with the emergency dispatcher.

Rain wasn’t the problem. Foliage was bordering my phone sky view

On Tuesday, Apple

(AAPL)
Emergency SOS will launch via satellite for those with iPhone 14 in the US and Canada, with plans to roll out In the UK, France, Germany and Ireland next month. The free feature promises to allow iPhone users to contact dedicated emergency dispatchers via satellite when the cellular network is unavailable.

Hikers, emergency responders, and intrepid travelers may be well aware of the current world of satellite phones, which provide voice, SMS, and data services anywhere on Earth. But today’s satellite phones often have large protruding antennas. Apple said it wanted to invent technology that would allow direct satellite communication that was still within the iPhone form factor.

“It started with finding frequencies that worked on the iPhone that were also available for use on satellite,” Aaron Mathias, Apple’s vice president of wireless technologies and ecosystems, told CNN Business. “Then we made the necessary hardware modifications on the iPhones, but without the bulky antennas.” He added that Apple first built new software that enabled the iPhone to communicate with satellites and then designed the user experience around that.

The effort is part of a broader show this year to consumers that its devices not only help them live better, but also live safely. In the process, it can make its pricey products look a bit pricey indispensable In an uncertain economic environment has some rethink expenses.

Apple recently It invested 450 million dollars At Globalstar, a global satellite service, and other providers support the development of 24 low-orbit satellites that fly 16,000 miles per hour higher than the International Space Station. The investment is part of Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which was previously used to produce glass using Corning technology and laser facial recognition technology.

during testing with An iPhone 14 provided by Apple, I tried to call 911 but was automatically redirected to Emergency SOS via satellite dispatchers for demonstration purposes. When the device was unable to contact cellular service, a small green icon appeared in the bottom right of the call screen to initiate a text conversation with emergency services.

I was asked to fill out a questionnaire and used a few short multiple choice questions; I noticed that I was lost, but I was not injured. Because a user may be in distress, Apple said, the questionnaire helps gather important information more quickly. (It’s the same set of questions a 911 dispatcher asks.)

“When we went out and tested this with dispatchers in the field, they told us that in some situations, the answers they get from the survey, along with the user’s location, might be enough for them to send a message,” said Trey Forgetti, director of software engineering for emergency systems at Apple. “The decision is, right at the beginning, this is huge in terms of reducing to get help getting field responders to the user.”

Roughly 20 seconds later, I received confirmation that my geolocation coordinates had been sent to the dispatcher, along with my medical ID, emergency contact information, and answers to my questions. I was told to keep responses short, which would likely reduce the amount of data needed to be transmitted to the satellite and back to the transmitter. I was also asked to identify nearby landmarks and where I entered the park. My total exchange lasted about four minutes.

Apple said that the size of the texts was reduced to about a third of their original size, by running them through a compression algorithm. This allows the satellite to route messages more efficiently to ground stations located around the world. Once received, the text messages are sent to the local emergency services or a relay center with Apple-trained emergency professionals who can dispatch assistance.

But even in the city, I lost contact with the satellite several times when I couldn’t see the sky clearly. A grayscale circle with a green signal image appears when connected but turns yellow when conditions are bad and red when connection is lost. .I walked About 200 feet from my original location to find a satellite. he was there, I held the device in my hands normally; Apple said there’s no need to lift or wave it around.

“Because the satellites are moving, sometimes the phone may need to move from one satellite to the next, and there may be short gaps where no satellite is available,” said Matthias. “The phone knows this and will indicate to the user that there is such a gap and let them know when the next satellite will be available.”

When it works, the life-saving potential of such a feature is clear. But there is Some caveats. To start, it’s text Just; Users will need to physically hold the device in their hands to initiate the exchange, which may not always be possible in the event of an infection. However, the tool works with the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch’s fault detection feature, so it can automatically call emergency services or send coordinates to a dispatcher when a user is unconscious or unable to access their iPhone.

At the moment, the SOS emergency service operates via satellite only in English, Spanish and French, although the messengers You have professional translation services available for many other languages. Apple said it also may not work in all regions, such as places above 62 degrees latitude, including northern parts of Canada and Alaska.

For iPhone 14 users who want to see how the tool works, and test out the process of finding a satellite, a demo is now available in Settings under “Emergency SOS via Satellite.” Apple said the feature is available for free for two years, after which it will re-evaluate the offer based on what it has learned about usage during that time.

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