Android is getting an answer to iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite, thanks to Qualcomm

Android is getting an answer to iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite, thanks to Qualcomm

Qualcomm Snapdragon Satellite takes the Apple Emergency SOS service and goes a step further.

In the near future, Android smartphones are poised to incorporate their own version of the Emergency SOS via satellite feature, drawing inspiration from the iPhone 14 and leveraging Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon Satellite technology. This feature extends beyond mere emergency coverage.

At CES 2023, Qualcomm, the chip designer, revealed a collaboration that involves partnering with the Iridium satellite network and Garmin Response emergency rescue services to introduce satellite connectivity for Android devices. The initial release is scheduled for later this year and will be integrated into devices featuring the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship chipset, accessible in North American and European regions.

Similar to the Emergency SOS via satellite feature in the iPhone 14 series, Snapdragon Satellite enables users to send emergency messages globally, contingent on an unobstructed view of the open sky. This capability is facilitated by Qualcomm's advanced X70 5G modem, ensuring seamless satellite connectivity.

A demonstration video showcases a scenario where a user, lost in an unfamiliar location, utilizes their smartphone to align with the sky and pinpoint a passing satellite. This interaction establishes a connection, allowing them to communicate with a designated contact. The entire process is facilitated through a dedicated Snapdragon Satellite application, with the potential for future integration with popular messaging apps for added convenience.

Snapdragon Satellite provides a two-way emergency messaging service, similar to Apple’s corresponding feature. However, its functionality goes beyond emergencies, as Qualcomm encourages users to employ it for regular text messages and other communication needs in remote areas. This could prove especially useful for individuals dealing with connectivity challenges during travel or residing in off-grid locations.

An unresolved concern revolves around whether Qualcomm or Android phone manufacturers will impose additional charges for activating this service on phones. In contrast, Apple has committed to offering two free years of Emergency SOS via satellite coverage for iPhone 14 users, implying possible fees after this initial period. While it may seem unfair to place safety features behind a paywall after purchasing a new device, Qualcomm, like Apple, might decide to introduce fees.

Qualcomm envisions extending this technology beyond smartphones to include laptops, tablets, and vehicles. While people usually carry their phones everywhere, there are situations where different devices or vehicles come into play. Integrating this feature into products beyond phones not only improves messaging across various platforms but also introduces the possibility of additional features.

The initial Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones, such as the OnePlus 11 Pro, have already been launched, with anticipated devices like the Samsung Galaxy S23 series expected to follow soon. It is reasonable to assume that these models will incorporate Snapdragon Satellite when Qualcomm launches the service. Therefore, if you plan to purchase these phones, be on the lookout for the release of this bonus upgrade.

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