Further details have emerged about Apple’s apparent plan to include LEO (low-Earth orbit) satellite technology, a feature that would allow the handset to remain connected in areas without cellular service, in the upcoming iPhone 13.
According to a Bloomberg report on Monday, it seems the technology will only be available for contacting first responders via text message during an emergency in a place where no cellular connection is available.
Sources claiming to have knowledge of Apple’s plans suggested the satellite technology would power two different tools.
The first would allow users to fire off a text — in a gray message bubble instead of the usual green or blue — to first responders and contacts over a satellite network if there’s no other connection available.
The second feature is described by Bloomberg as “a tool to report major emergencies, such as plane crashes and sinking ships, also using satellite networks.”
Texts sent via satellite would reportedly have a character limit and would ignore a recipient’s do-not-disturb setting if it’s on.
It’s suggested that while the feature would probably launch using texts only, phone calls could be added at a later date.
However, the report adds that while the technology could be fitted with the iPhone 13, the service may not be available until 2023. Sources added that the feature could also be altered before launch, or even abandoned.
Apple has apparently been exploring the idea of adding satellite technology to the iPhone for several years. But the plan was suddenly thrust in the limelight on Sunday when prominent Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the company was planning to launch the technology with the iPhone 13, which is set to land in September, adding that it may call upon satellite firm Globalstar to help power the feature.
But just as many people were pondering the idea of the iPhone becoming a more versatile device that could still contact others even without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, Bloomberg’s report suggests the feature will be more limited, at least to begin with.
Digital Trends has contacted Apple for comment on the report and we will update this article when we hear back.