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“Google Messages” Satellite Connectivity Plans for Android 14

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Google Messages by Google is set to introduce satellite connectivity to Android 14, a promising feature that could revolutionize emergency communication. While it’s not yet a default feature, Google Messages is actively laying the groundwork for it, collaborating with Qualcomm, which will supply specialized hardware in its Snapdragon chips.

The Emergence of Satellite Messaging

This exciting development was first brought to light by the trusted tipster @neil_rahmouni on X (formerly Twitter). The leaked Google Messages interface shows what people might see when phones with the right parts are ready. The conversation layout resembles a typical text message thread, but the crucial distinction lies in the text entry box, which specifies that you are sending a “Satellite message.” Additionally, there’s a character count indicator on the right, though, in the provided screenshots, it displays “-1,” hinting that satellite messages might have character limitations, potentially fewer than standard SMS.

Based on the interface discovery, it appears that users will have the freedom to compose text as needed when communicating with emergency services. Suppose this isn’t due to the UI’s unfinished state. In that case, it represents a significant advancement compared to Apple’s solution for the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS feature, which restricts users to predefined messages with specific follow-up questions based on the emergency type selected.

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Mobilizing Satellite Connectivity

Mishaal Rahman’s investigation reveals further details about satellite connectivity in Android 14. In situations where an emergency phone call is attempted without a network connection, a module will prompt the dialer app to suggest switching to satellite messaging instead.

While full-fledged utilization of satellite connectivity may require new hardware, there’s potential for Google and other manufacturers to upgrade existing modem software to accommodate this functionality. Google’s proactive work on satellite emergency calls for its first-party apps suggests that Pixel phones may see this feature sooner than expected. In the interim, users can explore interim solutions like Motorola’s Defy satellite Bluetooth dongle.

Google Messages: Expanding Emergency SOS via Satellite

Google Messages, the default messaging app on most Android devices, is gearing up to offer emergency SOS messaging through satellite connectivity. This development, discovered by Neïl Rahmouni on Twitter and reported by Mishaal Rahman, signifies Google’s commitment to integrating satellite emergency communication directly into its messaging platform.

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Google Messages
Source: Google

However, it’s important to note that the presence of SOS-related elements in the app is currently a placeholder, and it doesn’t definitively confirm support for satellite communication on upcoming Pixel phones or other devices. Nevertheless, this move underscores Google’s intent to seamlessly incorporate the service into its existing messaging app rather than introducing a separate application.

Google had previously announced its plans to enable smartphones to connect directly with satellites in Android 14. A similar feature on iPhones has already proven to be a life-saving asset during emergencies, notably during the Hawaii wildfires.

While it makes logical sense for Google to integrate emergency SOS via satellite into Google Messages, there is still uncertainty surrounding which devices will support this feature and the implementation specifics. As previously noted, satellite support in Android hinges on a device’s modem hardware, meaning not all Android 14 devices will necessarily offer satellite connectivity.

Rumors suggest that both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 8 series possess the necessary hardware for satellite communication, but enabling this capability may necessitate significant firmware updates.

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