The feature is aimed at helping iPhone owners in emergency situations by letting them send messages (but not make traditional phone calls) to emergency services if cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t an option. After you try, and fail, to call emergency services the traditional way, the iPhone 14 will prompt you to “Report Emergency” and will present you with a questionnaire to gather information about your situation. Answers to the questionnaire will be sent alongside your location, altitude, iPhone battery level, and your Medical ID (if available). There’s also the option of notifying your emergency contacts.
“The feature will mean that emergency services can be alerted when it was not previously possible and are then able to do their jobs to better effect, in part because of the initial information that can be shared with dispatchers, such as location and essential details about the emergency,” said the British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials’ president John Anthony. “Ultimately, this will help save lives.”
Emergency SOS via satellite worked well when we tried it out for ourselves last month, although we were in a park in Brooklyn rather than out in the wilderness. Just be aware that it can take a minute or longer for messages to send, depending on the signal between your phone and satellite. It’s also possible to share your location with friends and family via satellite using the Find My app in non-emergency situations.
Apple says it’ll be rolling out Emergency SOS via satellite in more countries next year. Two years of the service are included free with the purchase of a compatible iPhone 14 (including the 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max), although it’s currently unclear how much it’ll cost once those two years are up. If you’d like to test it out but aren’t currently in an emergency, there’s a demo mode you can use to familiarize yourself with the feature.