Apple a day: Snowmachiner’s life saved with new Apple iPhone 14 SOS feature

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snow machine


On Thursday, a man traveling on snowmachine at around 2 am became stranded between Noovik and Kotzebue, a route used frequently in the winter but not traveled heavily at night. The temperature in the area had dropped into the teens.

Alaska State Troopers were notified that a person had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on an iPhone. Working with local search and rescue teams, the Apple Emergency Response Center, and the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinator, the rescue effort deployed four volunteer searchers to the Nimiuk Point area, to the exact GPS coordinates provided by the Apple Emergency Response Center. The stranded man was located and transported to Kotzebue by the volunteer search team. There were no injuries reported.

This may be the first successful search and rescue operation in nation using this new Apple iPhone feature, which is found on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models. The feature supposedly only works as far north as the 62 parallel, while Kotzebue and Noorvik are at latitude 69, 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

With iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models, you can use Emergency SOS via satellite to text emergency service agencies when you’re out of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. You can also use the Find My app to share your location with people via satellite, Apple says.

Emergency SOS via satellite can help people connect with emergency services under exceptional circumstances when no other means of reaching emergency services are available. If they call or text emergency services and can’t connect because they are outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, their iPhone tries to connect them via satellite to the help that they need.

When using a satellite connection, the experience is different than sending or receiving a message via cellular. In ideal conditions with a direct view of the sky and the horizon, a message might take 15 seconds to send, and over a minute to send under trees with light or medium foliage, Apple says. If the user is under heavy foliage or surrounded by other obstructions like mountains and buildings, he or she might not be able to connect to a satellite. Connection times can also be impacted by the surroundings, the length of the message, and the status and availability of the satellite network.

The emergency SOS via satellite feature is free for two years after the activation of iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro.

Just make sure when you’re traveling from Noorvik to Kotzebue in the dead of winter that you have a fully charged phone, because you’ll need to get it from your pocket and keep it in the open so it can communicate with a satellite. That battery life is noticeably shorter in cold weather.

More about the SOS feature on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro at this link.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting. Small recommended correction though; Kotzebue is at 66.89 latitude, not 69. Noorvik is very slightly south in latitude.

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