iPhone 14 and satellites: Elon Musk had a “promising” discussion with Apple

After the announcement of the iPhone 14 series, which has a satellite communication function, Elon Musk reveals that he is already talking to Apple.

After 5G, come satellites. Apple introduced its new iPhone 14 series during the September 7 keynote. And among the most important novelties of the ecosystem, there is satellite communication.

Currently available in North America, this new feature allows iPhone 14s to communicate directly with satellites. This is not intended to replace the networks of telephone operators but is used to request help in the event of an accident, for example, if the user is outside the coverage areas.

On its help page, Apple also advises its users to try to call emergencies first, before going through satellite communication if they cannot call. This communication is done by text message and we know that to provide the functionality, Apple is working with the company Globalstar, an American satellite communications company that operates a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit.

But the new function on iPhone 14 is also of interest to SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company. And while Musk’s relationship with Apple is complicated (Apple is preparing to compete with Tesla on electric vehicles), the two parties may also have common interests.

Thus, we learn that current discussions are already underway in Musk and Apple about satellite communication. The SpaceX CEO responded to a Twitter user who expressed his desire to see the company work with Apple to improve the satellite communications feature on iPhone 14.

“We’ve had promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity,” Musk revealed, in his response. “The iPhone team is obviously super smart

He also explained that communication between satellites and smartphones will be better if the software and hardware of smartphones adapt to signals coming from space, compared to “Starlink purely emulating the cell tower.” 

With or without Apple’s help, Starlink has already advanced its pawns

Recall that before the presentation of the iPhone 14 series, Starlink had announced a partnership with the American operator T-Mobile to put an end to the white zones in the United States. In essence, where T-Mobile’s network is unavailable, SpaceX’s satellites will take over. And according to the explanations of the operator, this will be compatible with the “vast majority” of smartphones already in use.

Initially, this feature will only support texting. However, the two companies are already planning to expand the collaboration to phone calls and mobile data.

Otherwise, SpaceX and T-Mobile are inviting other carriers around the world to follow suit. “[…] the CEOs (of T-Mobile and SpaceX, editor’s note) shared their vision for the expansion of Coverage Above and Beyond globally, issuing an open invitation to operators around the world to collaborate for connectivity truly global. T-Mobile is committed to offering reciprocal roaming to providers working with them to enable this vision,” reads a statement from the operator.

Note also that for its part, Google has already announced that it is developing Android 14 so that this new version is optimized for satellite communication.

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