Starting today, iPhone 14 users can send SOS messages to emergency services in Ireland in areas without cellular coverage or Wi-Fi connections.
The service, which was first launched by Apple in the US and Canada last month, uses satellite communications instead of a cellular network.
It allows users to send an SOS message, which will be picked up by an Apple-setup relay center and then forwarded to emergency services and designated emergency contacts.
It also reveals the geographic location of the data subject by guiding the user on the iPhone screen to point the iPhone at the satellite’s position in the sky.
The SOS service is mainly intended for hikers, mountaineers and those who are in very remote areas that are usually outside of cell phone coverage.
Apple says the service will be free for all iPhone 14 users for two years, but won’t be available as a primary service for users of earlier models. The company hasn’t said whether the service will be billed later and how much it might cost. It requires current iOS 16.1 software and is also rolling out today in France, Germany and the UK.
For those who don’t have an emergency but just want friends or family to know where they are in a remote area with no cellular or WiFi coverage, the new service allows them to find their location via satellite using the Find My system of the iPhone share. In the Find My app, users can open the Me tab, swipe up to see My Location by Satellite, and tap Send My Location.
However, contacts don’t necessarily have to have an iPhone 14 or use an iPhone at all to engage in an emergency scenario. Up to 10 emergency contacts using iOS 16.1 and iMessage will see the user’s location, the nature of the emergency, and a live transcript of their conversation with emergency services. For emergency contacts who don’t use an iPhone or are using an iPhone with a version earlier than iOS 16.1, Apple says it will still work, but the contact will only see the user’s location and the nature of the emergency.
Qualifying phones are the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
According to Apple, the iPhone 14 series’ satellite connection also works with other security features available on iPhone and Apple Watch, including crash detection and fall detection.
The SOS emergency call via satellite works automatically if there is no mobile or WLAN connection. An interface appears that offers the user assistance in using a satellite connection.
A short questionnaire then appears, which is sent in the first message to the dispatchers to help them understand the situation and the location of the data subject. Apple says it worked with experts to review standard questions and protocols to identify the most common reasons for calling emergency services.
After the questionnaire, the user interface guides the user where to point their iPhone to connect to the satellite before the first message is sent. This message includes the user’s responses to the questionnaire, location (including elevation), iPhone battery level, and Medical ID if enabled. According to Apple, the questionnaire and follow-up messages are relayed directly via satellite to relay centers staffed by Apple-trained specialists who can call for help on the user’s behalf. The transcript can then also be shared with the user’s emergency contacts – if they’re using an iPhone running iOS 16.1 – to keep them in the loop.
“Emergency SOS via satellite is a major innovation that will save lives by helping iPhone 14 users in remote areas who might otherwise be unable to reach emergency services,” said Michael Kelly, Head of BT Ireland’s Emergency Call Answering Service. “Because Apple has implemented a model that emergency responders are familiar with, we can expect a seamless adoption experience for our operators and emergency service partners.”
The European Emergency Number Association has also supported the service.
“Satellite Emergency SOS makes satellite emergency communications more accessible, which is very exciting,” said Gary Machado, CEO of the European Emergency Number Association. “In practice, this means many more people can reach 112 [or 999] if they have no mobile phone reception and urgently need help. We are confident that this will save many lives and provide significant assistance to the emergency services in what are often very complicated rescue operations.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/iphone-14-emergency-sos-via-satellite-launches-in-ireland-42214458.html iPhone 14 emergency SOS via satellite launches in Ireland