People from more than 150 countries might be able to send text messages over satellite connectivity using their Android phones.
- Google appears to have plans to introduce emergency SOS messaging to Android phones in collaboration with Garmin, offering the feature in over 150 countries worldwide.
- Partnering with Garmin will help ensure better coverage and availability of the satellite messaging service in the Google Messages app, giving Google an advantage over Apple.
- While the satellite connectivity feature is expected to be free for Android users, it may require dedicated hardware support, limiting its availability to flagship phones like the Galaxy S23 models.
One of the biggest limitations of Apple’s satellite connectivity feature in the iPhone 14 series is its limited availability. But it looks like Google has plans to introduce the ability to send emergency SOS messages to Android phones, which won’t be limited to only a select few countries.
X (formerly Twitter) user Neïl Rahmouni, who previously revealed UI elements for conversations over satellite in Google Messages, has recently spotted evidence of Google collaborating with Garmin, one of the key players in the satellite SOS business, to launch the satellite messaging service for its Messages app on Android. Rahmouni further claims that collaboration between Google and Garmin will enable the Mountain View tech giant to offer its emergency SOS messaging feature in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Working with other satellite operators like Garmin seems like a smart move to ensure greater availability of the satellite capability in the Messages app. While it isn’t exactly clear how many ways Garmin will help Google, better coverage and availability of emergency SOS messaging will surely give Google an edge in competition with Apple. Besides the Google Messages app, no other third-party messaging apps are known to be working on the satellite-based messaging feature. But that might change when Google satellite communications APIs become available for all developers.
The satellite connectivity feature is expected to be available with Android 14. When available, users will be able to use the Google Messages app to send emergency SOS messages in situations where they can’t access the cellular network. This is a free service available on Apple’s latest iPhone devices and will likely be free for Android users as well. However, we can’t rule out the possibility of both Google and Apple asking for a subscription fee at some point from their customers to use the service.
But even if it remains a free service for Android users everywhere, a larger number of those won’t be able to use it because of the requirement of dedicated hardware support. In all likelihood, the satellite connectivity support will be available in flagship Android phones, like the Galaxy S23 models, and not mid-range or entry-level ones. We’ll get all our questions answered related to satellite connectivity support for Android when Google makes it official.