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Reason why Apple's new messages via satellite feature is their most underrated addition

Reason why Apple's new messages via satellite feature is their most underrated addition

It doesn't require any fancy tricks to set up either.

For the past couple of years, there have been numerous reports of stranded people who were rescued because of their iPhones.

Apple has a habit of highlighting these stories to build hype for its launches - I mean, why wouldn't they?

One super-powerful feature that allows these kinds of miracle stories is Apple's Emergency SOS via satellite which lets iPhone 14 and 15 users contact emergency responders without cell signal.

In this day and age, the device you carry everywhere should at least be able to assist you in areas with no signal. But, the tech giant is going one step further by allowing users to message anyone via this method, even when it's not an emergency.

In a demonstration with a CNET reporter, Kurt Knight, Apple's senior director of platform product marketing, sent messages, emojis and tapbacks using satellites in the sky.

Jacques Julien / Getty
Jacques Julien / Getty

'It is just like using iMessage that you're used to, super easy,' Knight said.

'We have a custom protocol so that this is still end-to-end encrypted. We had to do extra work to make the [data] packets extra small, because you need to be really efficient sending things up to space and back.'

And it didn't require any fancy tricks to do so either.

All Knight did was follow the onscreen guide to connect to a satellite and occasionally adjust his direction to strengthen the connection.

Like Emergency SOS, you need to be outdoors with a direct line of sight of the sky, tall buildings and mountains can block satellite connectivity.

Knight created messages on his phone as he would if his iPhone was connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.

Users can message over a satellite connection in one of two ways: following a notification when the iPhone is in SOS mode or opening up the Messages app to receive a similar prompt.

The only noticeable difference from normal messages was in the delay in receiving them, the reporter described.

Anton Petrus/Getty
Anton Petrus/Getty

'Most sends were nearly instantaneous, others took 15 to 20 seconds with one taking over a minute.'

Nonetheless, a neat advantage of iMessage over SMS is the freedom of others being able to start the conversation.

For SMS over satellite, you have to initiate the conversation by sending the first message unless the recipient is an Emergency Contact or part of Family Setup.

'We support SMS,' continued Knight. 'So you can send a message to basically anyone who has a phone and they're able to just reply.'

Messages via satellite supports emojis, tapbacks and text messages, along with iMessage bubble and screen effects.

However, you cannot send or receive photos or videos in this mode and it doesn't support group chats - so bear that in mind.

Featured Image Credit: Jacques Julien / Anton Petrus Getty