Apple's emergency SMS service for iPhone 14 goes live in the US and Canada

Apple boss Tim Cook with the new iPhone 14. Apple is rolling out its satellite-based emergency SMS feature to owners of the latest iPhone generation. — Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa

BERLIN: Your phone can be a lifesaver if you get into trouble on a mountain hike – but only if you have signal. For emergencies in places where there is poor reception, Apple is now rolling out a new satellite SMS service for iPhone 14 owners.

Going live on Tuesday in the US and Canada, the feature lets you point your iPhone 14 towards a satellite to send an emergency message even if there's no signal in your area. Germany, France, the UK and Ireland will get the feature by the end of December, Apple says.

The feature is ground-breaking for smartphones, as until now, you needed a special phone with a larger antenna for this to work.

The service is initially free to use for two years from the time a new iPhone 14 is activated. For all those who already have an iPhone 14, the free period begins with the availability in their country. Apple has not yet commented on the pricing model after the two years.

To make this feature possible, Apple has integrated an in-house system for connecting to satellites into the iPhone 14 Pro models.

However, the connection remains a technical challenge, and for the feature to work, the iPhone must be pointed directly at the satellite, and the transmission can take several minutes.

Since the satellites are not visible to the naked eye, users get help aligning the devices with a graphic on their screen.

The satellite service is available on all iPhone 14 models with iOS 16.1 or higher and can be used whenever no other network is available.

The SOS feature is only the latest in which Apple has been marketing how its devices can save lives. Both the Apple Watch 8 and the new iPhones can detect serious car accidents and automatically alert emergency services thanks to new acceleration sensors.

The built-in barometer also detects changes in the vehicle's interior pressure when an airbag is triggered and the phone analyses the soundscape captured by microphone.

The Apple Watch already has fall detection, which alerts an emergency contact if it detects a sudden fall followed by no movement, and heart rhythm monitoring for cardiac disorders. – dpa

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