Elon Musk reveals SpaceX and Apple discussed Starlink support for iPhone 14
Just a day after Apple announced the iPhone 14's emergency SOS via satellite feature, SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX had talked with Apple Inc about using Starlink connectivity.
He tweeted on Thursday that the companies have had "promising conversations", adding that Apple's iPhone team is "super smart". "For sure, closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower," Musk said on Twitter.
We’ve had some promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity. iPhone team is obv super smart.For sure, closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower.
Starlink is a SpaceX initiative to create a global broadband network by using a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed internet services.
The Emergency SOS via Satellite will permit iPhone 14 users to ping emergency services using satellite networks in areas without standard cellular reception. For the service, Apple is working with Globalstar, which debuted on Wednesday and works by relaying the signal to satellites in Earth's orbit, as per a regulatory filing.
The service will allow for communication between consumers
But, Apple isn't the first to announce a smartphone with satellite connectivity. SpaceX announced a partnership with T-Mobile has a month in which phone users could be able to tap into SpaceX satellites to send text messages in areas without cellular connectivity. Bloomberg reported that the collaboration is "dependent" on SpaceX launching an upgraded version of its Starlink satellites, known as Version 2.
That's not it.
A day before Apple announced the feature, Huawei jumped on the bandwagon and noted that its Mate 50 lineup would come with a satellite-enabled texting service. However, the U.S. embargo on Huawei products would mean that Apple would still be the first commercially available smartphone with a satellite in the U.S.
The service, slated to arrive this November, will allow for consumer communication. The company also added that Apple's short-length satellite texting service is designed for messaging emergency responders.
The satellite infrastructure will permit integration with Apple's Find My app, allowing hikers and explorers to be more accurately tracked by friends in areas where GPS or cellular services may not work.
The feature will be free for the first two years
Apple could have larger ambitions for satellite connectivity down the line, reported P.C. Magazine. According to the agreement, the company will pay 95 percent of the funding needed to help Globalstar to launch new satellites. And in return, Globalstar plans on allocating "85 percent of its current and future network capacity to support" Apple's services.
The investment in Globalstar could also "clash" with SpaceX, which is working on its own mobile satellite business through Starlink, the publication added.
Apple hasn't revealed how much the feature would cost after the initial period of two years, wherein it will be free. The T-Mobile and Starlink feature will be free. SpaceX and T-Mobile had claimed that this type of phone connection would be available to users "practically everywhere".
However, according to AppleInsider, the plan with T-Mobile and SpaceX isn't as seamless as Apple's satellite feature. T-Mobile intends to provide satellite communications for modern smartphones with compatible modems. Like Apple, it will be limited to text messages.
Musk’s companies have never collaborated with Apple, and it is unclear from his tweet if these "promising talks" are ongoing. Looks like there's more to the conversation.