The iPhone 13’s rumored satellite link sounds like it’s just for emergencies

Apple plans to let you connect your iPhone to satellites so you can contact emergency services in areas that don’t have cellular coverage, according to a new Bloomberg report. Bloomberg’s article was published after Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Sunday that the iPhone 13 may be able to make satellite calls. Kuo often reveals details about Apple’s plans before the company officially announces them, but Bloomberg’s sources indicate that Apple’s approach for iPhone satellite connectivity may be more limited to start.

One feature, called Emergency Message via Satellite, will let you text emergency services and emergency contacts when you don’t have a cell signal by harnessing a satellite network, according to Bloomberg. These messages will have a length limit and be represented as a grey bubble instead of the green used for SMS messages and the blue used for iMessages. And when you’re sending one of these messages to an emergency contact, it will reportedly push through even if they have Do Not Disturb mode turned on, which could help ensure that your message is seen.

Another feature will let users report emergencies. “The phone will ask what kind of emergency is happening, such as whether it involves a car, boat, plane or fire,” Bloomberg reports. You’ll also be able to send information such as your location and your Medical ID (which you can set up in the Health app). You may also be able to notify emergency contacts at the same time you report an emergency.

Bloomberg reports that the next iPhone might have the required hardware to make satellite calls. But a source tells Bloomberg that the new features probably won’t be ready before next year, throwing cold water on the idea that you might be able to use them as soon as you buy the next iPhone.

Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The new satellite link features, if they are released, could help ease fears about being able to contact emergency services in a time of need or when you’re away from a cellular network. There’s also the possibility the features could provide another way to get in touch with emergency services in the event of 911 outages, which do happen occasionally.

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