Google Messages may soon enable SOS via satellite


Satellite connectivity offers a lifeline for smartphone users in remote areas lacking cellular coverage. Following Apple’s introduction of emergency satellite SOS on the iPhone 14, Android devices could soon gain similar capabilities through Google Messages.

Android gains ground on satellite messaging

The ability to send and receive messages where mobile networks are unavailable represents mobile’s next frontier. Despite 5G’s capabilities, its reach has limits. Satellites can provide backup in some uncovered areas, but costs often make communications exorbitantly expensive.

Apple’s iPhone 14 permits emergency satellite messages when connections disappear, alerting rescuers. This has already helped save lives, like during recent Hawaii wildfires. Qualcomm announced satellite connectivity support in its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, enabling Android phones, smartwatches, and cars to exchange satellite messages. This seems imminent.

Google Messages satellite features in the works

An X user spotted satellite connection code arriving in Google Messages, Android’s default messaging app. The user interface now contains placeholders for emergency messages that could transmit via satellite.

As Android Authority explained, Google never concealed its Android 14 goal of adding this feature, launching in the fall. With millions of phones running Google Messages as the default, satellite integration would intuitively enable emergency use.

Limited user base

For satellite connections to activate on a phone, compatible integrated modem chips are also necessary, likely where Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 comes in. This processor generally powers premium devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S23, Xiaomi 13, Honor Magic 5 Pro, and Motorola Edge 40. Apple only equipped its latest iPhone 14, and likely September’s iPhone 15, leaving Android 14 phones needing compatible modems and software updates to switch on satellite functions.

Early in 2022, key supplier MediaTek announced satellite link support in new chips. Focusing on mid-range devices, the semiconductor firm has limited deployment beyond the CAT S75. Making the tech affordable on more mainstream devices remains challenging.

Key Takeaways:

  • Satellite connectivity provides a crucial fallback option when cellular networks are unavailable.
  • Apple brought satellite messaging to the iPhone 14 for emergency use.
  • Google Messages code suggests satellite support coming to Android 14 and compatible devices.
  • Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 modem chip likely enables the feature on premium Android phones.
  • Affordable satellite connectivity on mainstream Android devices faces adoption challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is satellite messaging?

Satellite messaging allows sending short text messages via satellites when cellular networks are unavailable. It provides basic emergency communication as a backup.

Which smartphones currently offer satellite messaging?

Currently, only Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup supports satellite emergency messaging. Android devices are expected to gain similar capabilities soon.

How does satellite messaging work on smartphones?

Smartphones with compatible chips and software can connect to satellites orbiting the earth to send and receive short text messages without cellular networks.

Will satellite messaging have widespread adoption?

While Apple rapidly deployed satellite messaging, adoption on Android depends on chipmakers and OEMs adding support. Costs may limit the tech to premium devices for now.

Could satellite messaging replace cellular networks?

No, satellite messaging has very limited bandwidth for simple text communications. Cellular networks are far faster and carry more data. Satellite messaging

Windows 10: Microsoft would develop a browser based on Chromium

windows 10 os

Microsoft is developing a new web browser around Chromium, the same open-source strain Google uses for Chrome, says WindowsCentral. According to the site’s sources, the publisher has decided to drop EdgeHTML, the engine currently used in Edge and which it has been using since 2015 in Windows 10.

This engine has never been able to convince or get Edge to take off against its competitors. According to Net MarketShare statements, Edge has a 4.2% market share on desktop PCs. It is not far ahead of Safari, which can only express itself on Mac (3.8%) and still behind Internet Explorer 11 (8.9%), Firefox (10%) and Chrome, which dominates with its head and shoulders (63.6%).

The code name of this next software that will become the default browser for Windows 10 is named after a Californian city: Anaheim.

Recently, two Microsoft developers had been seen contributing to the development of Chromium, but this had been interpreted as assistance in porting Google’s browser, Chrome, to a native version for Windows 10 on an ARM.

Microsoft is not in uncharted territory; it had already made this effort to run Edge on another engine than its own when it launched the Android and iOS versions of the browser a year ago.

This has of course nothing to do with the infamous Chromium malware that appeared lately :

An AI generates shockingly realistic faces

NVIDIA's AI produces Fake Human Photos

Three Nvidia researchers have created an artificial intelligence capable of generating realistic photos of individuals who do not even exist. How cool/creepy is that?

Beyond technical skills, we are already questioning our ability to distinguish between the true and the fake.

Generated by neural networks trained by 3 Nvidia researchers from scratch, these perfectly realistic pictures present a portrait of people who do not exist in the real world. The three scientists published a video, accompanied by their research work, on December 12, 2018. They should put their code and database in open source in the next few days.

What is the technology behind it?

To achieve this result, they relied on a generative adversarial network (GAN), an automatic learning system used in particular by artists, including those of the painting recently sold for $400,000. This automatic learning system puts two neural networks in competition. The first, the generator, generates images from the data provided to it. The second, the discriminator, points out those that are too close to the photos he receives. The tension between these two neural networks creates a learning loop, resulting in an improved GAN.

Nvidia researchers have built their own GAN that distinguishes between different “styles.” For example, it separates “high level” or “crude” attributes such as posture or facial shape, and “medium level” attributes such as nose, eyes, and mouth. Finally, there is a

Researchers can then adjust the level of variation for each of the styles (coarse, medium, or refined) to generate more or less similar faces.

Finally, the scientists considered several aspects of a human portrait to be random (or stochastic), such as hair position, pores, or freckles. “Therefore, we can generate them randomly without affecting our perception of the image, as long as they are correctly distributed,” they write in their study. By inserting statistical noise, they generate these details randomly, realistically.

For which purposes? What are the applications?

Nvidia researchers created these neural networks, and their code, as well as the databases in which they have been trained, will be put into open source very soon. Therefore, the Californian company should not get any direct benefit from the GAN developed by its researchers but can expect to get indirect benefits if other companies appropriate it. Nvidia remains the market leader in GPUs, the graphics processors initially used by the gaming industry. They are now coveted for their ability to perform several calculations in parallel, very useful in learning the machine, and essential for operating such artificial intelligence.