Apple to Expand Satellite Connectivity to iMessage for iPhones

Apple’s satellite connectivity system is currently exclusive to its “Emergency SOS” feature. But it’ll soon expand to iMessage, enabling users to send texts in cellular dead zones. The company announced the news at WWDC while discussing enhancements to iOS. The upcoming feature, slated for iOS 18, beams iMessage data to orbiting satellites rather than traditional cell towers. The only requirement is that you have a clear view of the sky. Apple designed satellite connectivity to maintain end-to-end encryption over iMessage. The same feature can also send SMS messages via the orbiting satellites to non-iPhone users. 

(Credit: Apple/PCMag)

Before, the Emergency SOS satellite connectivity only allowed eligible iPhone users to text emergency services. The feature has helped save lives since Cupertino introduced the system for the iPhone 14 back in 2022. However, Apple’s partner on the technology, satellite provider Globalstar, also teased last year that more satellite services for iPhones were in the works. So far, Apple hasn’t provided more details, including whether the iMessage satellite connectivity will be free or not. But the news arrives as SpaceX is preparing to offer satellite connectivity to iPhones and Android smartphones through a cellular Starlink service. SpaceX plans on offering the satellite service to T-Mobile customers later this year, first to power SMS messages before rolling out support for voice calls and internet data. Meanwhile, rival AT&T plans on tapping a startup called AST SpaceMobile to offer a rival cellular satellite service. 

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In the meantime, Apple has been offering eligible iPhone users two to three years of free access to the Emergency SOS feature.

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