Emergency SOS via satellite allows users to text emergency services even if they are outside of an area with Wi-Fi or cell coverage. It can be useful if, for example, you’re hiking and have an emergency but aren’t anywhere near a wireless network. Apple said the feature has “helped save lives around the world” in a release Wednesday.
Eventually, when Apple decides to charge for the feature, it will provide another source of recurring revenue for the company’s services business, which generated $22.31 billion in sales during Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter. Apple still hasn’t said how much it will cost.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 9, Qualcomm ended its partnership with satellite communications company Iridium to provide similar satellite-to-phone services for Android phones. Iridium said smartphone makers hadn’t included the technology in their devices, suggesting a lack of interest from Apple’s competitors.
The free trial of Emergency SOS via satellite applies to iPhone 14 users who activated their device in an eligible country or region before Nov. 15, Apple said. The service is also available to users who purchased one of Apple’s iPhone 15 devices, which was announced in September.
Apple announced additional satellite-based safety features in September like Roadside Assistance via satellite. The feature can connect users to the roadside service company AAA if they experience trouble with their vehicle in an area without cell service or wifi. The feature is free to iPhone 15 users for two years.
Shares of Apple were up less than 1% Wednesday.