Google is seemingly getting ready to launch a version of the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature on its Messages app according to data miners and leakers.
Following the RCS messaging update that made the protocol the default for all Google Messages users (and brought encryption to Messages group chats), data miners have discovered UI elements for a satellite messaging service within the app.
The Google Messages app is preparing to let you send an emergency SOS over a satellite connection!Emergency SOS on iPhone has proven to be an incredibly helpful feature, even contributing to saving some lives in the recent Maui wildfire.Although the emergency SOS activity in… https://t.co/bJkOYFZ3lSAugust 17, 2023
This isn’t too much of a surprise, as Google has already admitted that satellite communication support is coming with Android 14. What is interesting, however, is that the feature is being baked into the Google Messages app – a decision which may help to further cement the service as a user’s default communications app over rivals like WhatsApp and Telegram.
Unfortunately, when Google does launch satellite communications not every phone running Android 14 will be able to use it. That’s because the feature not only requires software support, it needs appropriate modem hardware too.
Phones that are optimized for Android 14, such as the rumored Google Pixel 8, will probably include the necessary parts, and some older phones (like the Google Pixel 7) seem to have the hardware for satellite comms too – however, plenty of phones will be left out. Notably, the Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup doesn’t include a satellite modem, despite running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform, which can support it.
That said, we should still take these data mines with a pinch of salt, and remember that no phone officially has satellite communications until the manufacturer announces it. There’s always a chance that the feature is delayed – it might still come to Android 14, but not at launch, or it could be pushed back further to Android 15 and beyond.
A life-saving feature
Emergency SOS on the iPhone 14 has already proven itself to be a life-saving add-on.
There have been numerous stories about people using the tool to help them escape a dangerous situation that they might not otherwise have survived. One of the most recent examples is of a family caught in the Maui wildfires in Hawaii; the five people were surrounded by the flames and didn’t have any cell service to be able to call for help, but with Apple’s Emergency SOS feature they got in contact with the fire department and were rescued within 30 minutes.
Hearing stories like this it’s clear that Emergency SOS via satellite messaging is a must-have safety feature – so hopefully Google does manage to bring it to Android soon, and helps to make the feature more ubiquitous.