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Apple Expands Emergency SOS with Satellite Communication in Australia and New Zealand

On Monday, Apple introduced its emergency satellite communication features to users in Australia and New Zealand. This development enables iPhone 14 users in the region to easily reach out to emergency services and share their location with friends and family in areas lacking cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity.

Apple initially unveiled this service during the launch of the iPhone 14 in September and subsequently launched it in the United States and Canada in November. Since then, it has expanded to 12 countries, with the addition of two more today.

To activate emergency communication via satellite, Apple provides users with multiple options: rapidly tapping the power button five times, holding the power button and a volume button, or dialing 000. If a user finds themselves without any connectivity, the system will guide them to utilize satellite communications by completing a brief questionnaire about the emergency. This information, along with the user’s location, is then sent to dispatchers, alerting them to the situation.

Additionally, the system offers guidance to users on how to point their iPhones toward the satellite to transmit a message effectively. To ensure quick transmission, Apple compresses the message by 3x due to the limited bandwidth of satellite communications.

In addition, Apple’s Find My app provides a solution for individuals embarking on off-the-grid hikes who wish to inform their families about their whereabouts. Even without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, users can still share their location through the app. Simply access the “Me” tab and choose “Send My Location” within the “My Location via Satellite” section.

Michelle Rowland, Australia’s Minister of Communications, acknowledged the significance of staying connected, particularly in regional, rural, and remote areas, where access to emergency services is crucial. She emphasized the importance of Apple’s Emergency SOS feature, which enables Australians to contact Triple Zero via satellite when traditional mobile coverage is unavailable, serving as a reliable backup to ensure connectivity during emergencies.

The introduction of Apple’s satellite communication feature is a significant step towards enhancing emergency response and ensuring the safety of individuals. By incorporating this capability, emergency services will be better equipped to respond promptly and safeguard people from harm. It is crucial for Australians to become acquainted with this feature and determine whether their device supports it, as it can prove invaluable in critical situations.

Notably, Apple is not the only player in the market to offer this functionality. Competing smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi are also preparing to introduce their own satellite communication features in upcoming devices. This expansion of satellite communication across multiple brands signifies a growing recognition of the importance of reliable emergency connectivity and highlights the industry’s commitment to providing users with such capabilities.

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