We tried Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite feature: This is how it works and what it's like - MrLiambi's blog


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Tuesday, 13 December 2022

We tried Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite feature: This is how it works and what it's like

Apple expanded its safety features in September 2022 with the announcement of Emergency SOS via Satellite, joining Medical ID, Emergency SOS and emergency contacts.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite feature enables users that live in a compatible country (US, UK, France, Germany and Ireland) and own one of the iPhone 14 series models to contact emergency services in areas where they don't have cellular or Wi-Fi cellular connectivity. 

We tried it out in Richmond Park on a demo model to give us an idea of how the Emergency SOS via Satellite works and the kind of experience you can expect should you ever get injured stuck up a mountain, or trapped on a trail.

collection: Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite how it works

How Emergency SOS via Satellite works

There is a demo mode available to all users of any of the four iPhone 14 models, which will give you a rough idea of what to expect when you use the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature. The demo we had of this feature saw the cellular connectivity switched off at a system level though to give a more detailed account of the experience.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite interface will appear as an option if you try to contact emergency services in an area where you have no cellular connectivity. When the simple to use interface launches, the following questions and options appear, though they might differ depending on your first answer. The below scenario was for when we selected Lost or Trapped as the initial answer:

  • What's the emergency?
    • Car or Vehicle Issue
    • Sickness or Injury
    • Crime
    • Lost or Trapped
    • Fire
  • Who needs help?
    • Me
    • Someone Else
    • Multiple people
  • Is anyone injured?
    • Yes
    • No
  • What best describes your emergency?
    • Stranded 
    • Trapped 
    • Lost
  • Do any of these apply?
    • Steep Terrain
    • Water
    • Cave
    • None

When you have answered all the questions above, you will then be asked if you want to notify your emergency contact(s) or not. Your conversation with emergency services and location can be shared with your contact or contacts.

Once a satellite is found - you will be guided to move your phone in the right direction to find a satellite in order to send the message - a message will appear with a summary of your answers. Your Medical ID and your location will also be sent to the Relay Centre. You'll need to keep pointing your iPhone towards the satellite and keep it in the green antenna on the screen to send and recieve messages.

You will then recieve a message back from the Emergency Relay Centre asking you to describe the location of your emergency. It is advised that you keep replies short and to the point. You'll also be asked follow up questions, like where you entered the area you are stuck in from, for example.

Your entire exchange with the Emergency Relay Centre is sent in real time to your emergency contact - if you have chosen to share. It's possible they will get the responses before you even do if they have cellular connectivity, though you would of course not know that if you are up a mountain.

What is the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature like to use?

The Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is super easy to use in our experience. You can't really do it wrong as you are guided step-by-step through the entire process and it's all multiple choice to make it simple. This is obviously very important as you may have limited use of your hands or you may be struggling to concentrate.

There are a couple of things to consider though. Firstly, you have to be outside, messages take longer to send than you would be used to with standard messages and you'll need to answer questions in a clear and consise manner to get a quick response. Basically, don't tell the relay centre your life story. They want to get you the help you might need, not learn your cat's name.

During our demo, we had a satellite break at one point so we had to wait a minute or so before we could get the message to send. This was of course no problem in Richmond Park when we weren't actually injured or trapped, though we would imagine if we were cold at the top of a mountain with a broken leg, it would feel like a very long minute. Depending on your emergency, keeping your iPhone within the green to find the satellite signal could also prove tricky in some cases.

We had a clear view of the sky during our demo, but it's worth noting that if you don't, or you are surrounded by lots of trees for example, things could take a little longer for everything to go through and responses to come back. It's a very seamless experience overall though, just expect it to take longer than what you would be used to sending a standard iMessage or WhatsApp message.

Having your entire conversation sent to your emergency contact in real time is a great feature as it means you can notify them what's happened to you despite having no signal, though it is probably worth keeping in mind that it may be distressing for them depending on the nature of your emergency. You can stop sharing at anytime though by tapping on the blue 'Stop' button at the top of your display.

collection: Send Location via Satellite

How to send your location via satellite using Find My

Along with the ability to call or text emergency services via satellite, it is also possible to send your location using Find My. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Open the Find My app
  • Tap on the 'Me' tab in the bottom right
  • Scroll down to My Location via Satellite
  • Tap on Send my Location
  • Confirm Send My Location
  • Point your iPhone 14 model in the right direction to get the satellite signal
  • That's it. It will get sent, though it will take longer than normal

Is there a demo of Emergency SOS via Satellite?

Yes. If you live in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Ireland or France, you can try out the demo of the service.

You can read our separate feature on how to find and launch the demo, but in a nutshell, follow the steps below:

  • Open Settings on your iPhone 14 model
  • Scroll down to Emergency SOS
  • Scroll down to the bottom
  • Tap on Try Demo

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/phones/news/apple/163797-apple-emergency-sos-via-satellite-feature-how-it-works-impressions

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