Why experts are concerned about the iPhone 14's satellite feature

Why experts are concerned about the iPhone 14’s satellite feature

Apple is touting emergency satellite communications capabilities for its new iPhone 14 lineup, but wildlife rescue experts say the new feature may cause some users problems.

New iPhones let you send short messages from remote locations where cellular service isn’t available. Apple says Satellite functionality is among the “vital new security features we hope you will never need.” However, experts say the feature could also give adventurers a false sense of security.

“There will always be a group of beginners or untrained outdoor recreationists who will put their faith in technology as a safety net that they don’t really understand” Christopher Boyer, executive director of the National Search and Rescue Association, told Digital Trends in an interview. “There will also be others who misuse technology out of ignorance, entitlement, or negative intent.”

Lost and found?

Apple says that a file Emergency SOS The feature, coming in November, can help you call emergency services outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. The company warns that under ideal conditions, a message could take 15 seconds to send, while it could take more than a minute to send under trees with light or medium leaves. If you are under heavy vegetation or surrounded by other obstacles, it may not be possible to connect to the satellite at all.

Jones noted that the satellites operate on line-of-sight links. If you are in a forest, cave, canyon, or anywhere in northern Canada or Alaska, you may not be able to connect to satellites.

Introducing emergency SOS via satellite | apple

“Read and understand the limitations of satellite communications, otherwise the satellite advantage is useless,” Boyer said. “Do not rely entirely on satellite service; make sure there are multiple, frequent ways to communicate or receive alerts, such as two-way radios.”

Bruce JonesMidland Radio, emergency preparedness expert, which performs two-way communications and weather/emergency alert technologies, cautioned in an interview with Digital Trends that “mobile phone users will need to understand that this feature will not be effective 100% of the time. Responsible use is My advice.”

Apple did not respond to Digital Trends’ request for comment.

Not a free pass for risky behavior

iPhone 14 lying on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Jones said first responders often deal with emergency calls from people who ignored posted or broadcast warnings, got themselves into trouble, and called for rescue. Some cities and counties will charge you exorbitant costs for a helicopter if you need to be rescued due to your own choices. “The SOS satellite is not a free pass for risky behaviour,” he added.

The debate over whether more technology leads to more risky behavior goes back decades. mountain climbers argue That devices like satellite rescue beacons, which can alert and guide rescuers to doomed adventurers, are a crutch that can lead inexperienced hikers into situations for which they are not prepared.

There is no doubt that satellite devices save lives. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA0) said that since its inception in 1982, its satellites have been credited with supporting more than 48,000 rescue operations worldwide.

In one recent episode, Alaska National Air Rangers rescued an injured park about 30 miles northeast of Anchorage. The park sent letters asking for help with a satellite communication device. “This rescue once again demonstrated the usefulness of a two-way satellite communication device when going into the Alaskan wilderness where there is no standard cellular service,” Jeffrey Hamilton said in a statement. new version.

Satellite rescuers

Communications satellite in Earth orbit.

Many wildlife experts say so The iPhone 14’s satellite capabilities can be a useful tool if used carefully. Ryan B. CarlsonCEO of the Wilderness Education Association, said the possibility that satellite communications could lead to overconfidence isn’t a reason not to buy a new iPhone.

“The answer is to better equip and educate users on best safety practices,” he said in an interview. To increase efficiencies in recreation activities, we need to increase access to training and education to make good decisions in remote areas. Education and Training Day is incredibly affordable compared to the cost of salvage, especially in remote areas.”

Jones agreed, saying that “everyone needs multiple, redundant ways to receive and transmit emergency information. Incoming severe weather warnings and outgoing calls for help have the potential to save lives. Satellite is another tool for putting your preparedness kit along with other devices.” Two-way radio.

Not all satellite communications are created equal

The X spot withstood a mountain background.
Andy Zahn/Digital Trends

Harding BushA former Navy SEAL expert and director of security operations for Global Rescue (a provider of medical, security, evacuation, and travel risk management services), said in an interview that remote enthusiasts should not replace their other satellite messaging devices with the iPhone 14. He noted that the iPhone 14 Satellite messaging lets you send SMS messages and emails to anyone – not just the local municipal 911 emergency response service.

“Satellite messaging devices usually have a tracking feature, where the user can send a message to specific recipients, and the recipient can follow the movement and location of the sender using a map, including location, geographic coordinates, travel direction, and the transmission speed of the sender.

But Bush said having cellular and satellite connectivity on one device is a huge technological breakthrough. Users will be safer as they can always contact emergency services.

A big step forward – up to a point

Someone is holding an iPhone 14 by their ear.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

“With the expansion of satellite functionality for smartphones, there could be a time when they outpace the capabilities and features of satellite messaging, trackers, and satellite phones,” Bush said. “But until then, devices with satellite messaging and tracking capabilities should be the standard communication device for those venturing beyond the range of a cell phone connection.”

Boyer warned that you shouldn’t head to the backcountry with your iPhone 14 hoping for a rescue in an emergency. You must be trained to use the map and compass and carry them with you. Also, let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.

“They should have carried the necessities that that environment required to be safe and survive,” he added. “They should have received first aid training and maintain all the external perishable skills they need. Once they are lost, they should stay where they are and try to call for help.”

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