Android 14 will support satellite connectivity, according to Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of Platforms and Ecosystems. He has confirmed that the company is “designed for satellites” and is supporting its partners to bring this feature to the next version of Android. This revelation comes almost a week after T-Mobile and SpaceX announced their plan to use Starlink V2 to eliminate dead zones around the world. It will connect users directly to satellites, eliminating the need for cell towers. Similarly, a recent report suggests Apple already has a satellite connection working on the iPhone 14.
Wild to think about user experiences for phones that can connect to satellites. When we launched G1 in '08 it was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working. Now we're designing for satellites. Cool! Excited to support our partners in enabling all of this in the next version of Android!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 1, 2022
Lockheimer points out that the user experience for smartphones that connect directly to a satellite is very different from the normal cellular connection. Not much more was revealed by him, except that this feature will be enabled in Android 14.
In related news, SpaceX and T-Mobile have partnered to bring satellite connectivity to phones in the US as well. The telecom operator plans to deploy thousands of Starlink satellites to bring wireless connectivity to cellphone users in remote parts of the country. This service could offer SMS support from the second half of 2023. Voice and data services are expected to be available later.
Elon Musk also tweeted that the Starlink V2 service will be launched in 2023 with a plan to “eliminate dead zones worldwide”. He offered other airlines an open invitation to work with Starlink.
Apple is also keen on offering satellite connectivity for the upcoming iPhone 14 series. According to a recent report, the Cupertino-based company had already completed hardware testing for satellite communications on the iPhone 14 before the smartphones reached mass production. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is unsure if this feature will come to the iPhone 14 as Apple needs to strike a deal with a satellite operator. When included, the iPhone 14 series’ satellite connection only offers emergency text and voice services.