Earth to iPhone 14 users! Apple has just made their Emergency SOS via Satellite feature available in Australia and New Zealand. This is a potentially life saving feature which, hopefully, you will never have to use, but if you want to be totally prepared you can now even try out a demo.
Emergency SOS via satellite is a safety feature that enables iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro users to connect with emergency services when you are outside of cellular or Wi-Fi range. Australia and New Zealand are the latest countries to get this service after Apple launched it late 2022, first in the US, Canada and now select European countries.
How to use Emergency SOS via Satellite?
This past week I had the opportunity to test this feature and I found it to be incredibly user friendly. Essentially, if you are in an emergency and unable to contact emergency services due to lack of connection or reception, your iPhone 14 will now offer the option to connect with emergency services via satellite.
After attempting to dial triple-0, if the call fails due to lack of service, your iPhone will suggest you contact emergency services via satellite and also show a green icon on screen with the option to proceed. Your iPhone then runs you through a simple questionnaire to assist you in reporting your emergency quickly and concisely.
It will ask questions such as ‘what’s the emergency?’, ‘what best describes the emergency?’ and ‘do you want to notify your emergency contacts?’. The interface is easy to understand, even if you’re using it for the first time.
How does Emergency SOS via Satellite work?
Next, you will need to point your iPhone towards the nearest satellite in the sky, and your iPhone will give you a visual on the direction in which to point your iPhone to gain this connection. If, however, you’re unable to hold the iPhone in the correct position due to an injury, the iPhone should still be able to connect to a satellite, although it will likely take longer to send and receive the emergency messages.
So, the satellite will receive your answers from your questionnaire, your Medical ID and your location. But who’s reading the messages and sending help? It turns out Apple has a ‘Relay Centre’ staffed with Apple-trained emergency specialists who contact Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) or emergency services call centres to get users the help they need.
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How to try the Emergency SOS via Satellite demo
After trying this feature, I think it will be incredibly helpful, especially in a country like Australia where a lot of incredible outdoor destinations are off the beaten path. Although I hope no one has to use it.
However, in case you’d like to be prepared, you can actually test this feature on an iPhone 14 or 14 Pro for yourself as there is now a demo available.
Firstly, ensure you’re on the latest iOS software, then head outside. Why outside? Well, this demo allows you to connect with real satellites to simulate a true experience of the feature, except you won’t actually be sending out emergency messages.
To access the demo, open the Settings app, scroll down to ‘Emergency SOS’ and then scroll down to find ‘Emergency SOS via Satellite’, tap ‘Try Demo’ and follow the instructions.
Important iPhone Safety features everyone should know
Testing this feature reminded me that it’s best to always have a plan for where you are going, to research the terrain, equipment and supplies you may need. And, if heading out on an adventure, to also let people know where you are going and how long you’ll be gone for. Additionally, it’s incredibly important and useful to turn on your location services when going exploring and to have your Medical ID and Emergency contacts set-up.
Your Medical ID and Emergency contacts can be input in your iPhone’s ‘Health’ app’. Just open the app and then tap your profile picture in the top right corner. Next, tap ‘Medical ID’ and click ‘Edit’ in the top right hand corner.
If you have emergency contacts set-up your iPhone will automatically notify these contacts by text message of your location if you ever use any Emergency SOS feature. And your Medical ID can be used by first responders to check whether you have any medical conditions or allergies. These features are built-in to all iPhones and are free and easy to set-up, so ensure you do so.
Elly Awesome is an Aussie tech and lifestyle vlogger | @ellyawesometech | YouTube