iPhone satellite features will be for emergency situations initially

With barely a month left, a new insider tip about the next iPhone seems to have set the Internet ablaze. Rumors of iPhone 13 features revolving around low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites have unsurprisingly produced some speculation and pushed one company's shares up briefly. That said, newer information is now tempering those expectations, claiming that the feature might be limited to very specific scenarios and might not even arrive until next year.

Ideally, LEO satellite support would have enabled users to make calls or send messages even when there is no cellular network coverage. Of course, that sounds too good to be true if there weren't any restrictions, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is revealing what those realistic limitations would be. In a nutshell, those satellite capabilities will focus on emergency scenarios rather than normal calls and messages.

Anonymous sources claim that Apple is preparing for two features that will take advantage of this satellite connectivity. The first is the direct ability to send a short message to emergency services or contacts even without a cellular connection. The other is a tool that will report a crisis like an accident and whether there is a need for search and rescue or other details like potentially dangerous persons.

These features themselves will also be subject to further limitations, which almost sound ironic or antithetical to their purpose. For example, users will have to go outside and be directed to walk a certain distance in order to connect to a satellite, and it might take at least a minute for the features to kick in. Furthermore, the availability of the feature will depend on local laws and won't be available in all markets.

Those hoping to see these features in the iPhone 13 might be disappointed to learn that it's still not set in stone. Although Apple may have been working on a modified Qualcomm Snapdragon RF chipset for that purpose, it might not even be included in this year's iPhone or, at the very least, not yet enabled. All that's certain for now is that the features would eventually land on future iPhones, perhaps in 2022 at the earliest.