A Cosmic Leap: APPLE Connects iPhones to the Skies with Satellite Messaging

The modern human experience – where telephone, internet, email and every other communication feature is omnipresent and all-encompassing – can make it feel like you’re being transported back to the late-1990s if you suddenly find yourself off the grid (whether during an extended road trip that takes a wrong turn, a long-distance hike that veers off-course, or an ill-fated but well-intentioned camping trip). Assuming you’re able to find your bearings, losing cellular signal can be a major pain. At best. Now imagine your phone having the capability to commune with the heavens – because when terrestrial networks fall short, your phone can reach the stars. This is the groundbreaking innovation we’re exploring: satellite messaging for the iPhone.

APPLE's Lifeline from the Heavens: SOS and Beyond

For years, an emergency call using APPLE’s SOS feature has been the ray of hope if you ever find yourself stranded without signal in the middle of nowhere. Now, APPLE announced at this year’s WWDC keynote that it took it one step further. From now on, it will also be possible to send regular (!) text messages via satellite. ‘Messages via Satellite’ is the name of the new service: As an APPLE user, you will never be truly off the grid. And there’s more: right from the beginning, this feature will be enabled thanks to a new mode in the Control Centre: messages will also be sent via satellite if you are in an area without a traditional cellular network.

How Does APPLE's Satellite Messaging Work?

Picture yourself isolated. For a moment, you look at your phone, and its signal bar is a flattened line. But then, the screen brightens, and it seems that APPLE’s new satellite service will let you make the call. It’s a simple task, but it’s still a technological marvel: your iPhone will call upon a satellite to beam your call back from space when no terrestrial network is available. An on-screen overlay will help guide your device towards the satellite in the sky.

The Nitty-Gritty: Encryption, Limitations, and Availability

APPLE’s initial presentation was half-technical and half-magical. It would outline how things work but leave the heavens at the edge of the frame. And for now, at least, the service appears to be free. That’s one of its great selling points: it wipes the cost from the ledger and pushes emergency connectivity within everyone’s reach. If text messages can hurl themselves into the gaping maw of distance and come out on the other side, image data cannot. It’s just too heavy. But APPLE’s iMessage users can sleep easy knowing that end-to-end encryption means that your messages really are from you to that one special person or group of people. Even via satellite. SMS-ers, not so much: unencrypted channels are unencrypted channels, and everyone who sends a green bubble into the wild has to know that those messages are aapes into the cosmic ocean.

The Future Is Now: When Can You Expect It?

APPLE’s notoriously secretive culture meant that particulars, including when the feature would be rolled out and what devices would be compatible, were somewhat murky. What was less opaque was the sheer boldness of APPLE’s move – satellite messaging was coming, and it was going to change the way that we think about being connected.

Harnessing the Power of Satellites: A Technological Marvel

The simple fact of our ability to send messages across the vast emptiness of space is a technological wonder, a sign that we have taken another step – perhaps a big one – in the continually evolving science of communications. Satellites circling hundreds to thousands of miles up in space are now potentially within reach of your phone. If you are ever lost on a summer’s day in the depths of a forest, it could be the difference between being found and being lost forever. If you are like me and spend your days thinking and writing about the amazing state of global interconnectedness we are currently experiencing, it is a source of wonderment and admiration.

Navigating the New Frontier: APPLE’s Satellite Connectivity

If ‘Messages via Satellite’ brings anything new to the conversation, it’s not really improved communication: it’s expanded the boundaries of what that communication can even be. Regardless of whether you’re lost on a peak, in the desert, or on a remote highway that your phone’s network can’t reach, the iPhone is positioned as your salvation, as your connection to everything and everyone in the world when you need it most.

APPLE: A Focus on Privacy and Accessibility

In this age of satellite connectivity, APPLE is emphasising its often-expressed commitments to user privacy and access. By offering the service for what sounds like little or no cost (individual pricing details have not been announced), and with encryption for iMessage included, APPLE is paving the way for what mobile communications can look like when it strays off the beaten path.

The Final Frontier: Understanding APPLE's Vision

APPLE’s attempt to embed satellite communications into iPhones is not just a feature, it is emblematic of a world where everyone will ever be out of touch – not even on earth. It is a solution to an incredibly practical problem in large parts of the world that, had a determined engineer not had a burning passion for the work, may never have come to be. At the present it is difficult to imagine a more innovative and creative solution in a way to make the world better for everyone. And it is the very beginning of the future, where technology will continue to push the boundaries, literally, into the stars.

What’s Next for APPLE?

Again, APPLE’s lead has been impressive; it shows that the company plans to keep pushing the frontier of the possible, to keep raising the bar for our expectations of connectivity. Until we see what APPLE announces in 2019 – and, hopefully, beyond – one thing we can know for sure: there is no sky for APPLE.


Founded in 1976 in a garage in Los Altos, California (just south of Mountain View), APPLE has evolved from a garage start-up intro one of the world’s most valuable publicly-traded tech companies. It’s innovative products in consumer electronics, software and services include the iPhone, iPad, Mac, APPLE Watch, You Magazine, and more. From its focus on privacy, to sustainability and creativity, the company is always moving forward, always on top of one’s game, always creating another ‘game-changer’ product that is setting a new bar for others to try to follow. APPLE’s ‘Messages via Satellite’ is not only expanding the reach of the company’s market but is expanding itself into the ether, insuring that ‘wherever you are, you’re never out of touch, and you’re never out of reach’.

Jun 11, 2024
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