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