Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite will let Android telephones textual content off the grid | Engadget

Last 12 months, Apple launched Emergency SOS, which permits the iPhone 14 to hook up with satellites to ship emergency calls and texts. Now, Qualcomm has unveiled its personal satellite tv for pc messaging options for Android telephones. It’s known as Snapdragon Satellite, and it’ll enable gadgets geared up with the corporate’s X70 modems to hook up with satellites so as to ship messages when no mobile sign is out there.

The characteristic, which is predicted to be accessible on telephones starting within the second half of 2023, is the results of a partnership with longtime satellite tv for pc cellphone maker Iridium. Thanks to the partnership, Android telephones geared up with the X70 modem and Qualcomm’s SOC will have the ability to hook up with Iridium’s satellite tv for pc community for off-grid texting in each emergency and non-emergency conditions.

As with a lot of Qualcomm’s tech, precisely how these options will feel and appear will largely be decided by the person cellphone makers. Device makers may have appreciable flexibility by way of how they implement satellite tv for pc messaging, notably for person-to-person texts. But whereas we don’t know precisely the way it will look when it launches, Qualcomm provided an early have a look at the know-how at CES, which offered a reasonably good concept of what to anticipate by way of performance.

Karissa Bell / Engadget

As with Apple’s Emergency SOS, you’ll should be outdoors with a transparent view of the sky so as to use satellite tv for pc messaging. When enabled, an on-screen message will supply steering for the place to level your machine so as to hook up with a satellite tv for pc.

The demo we noticed wasn’t precisely an off-grid location. The desert campground about half-hour away from the Las Vegas Strip could have regarded the half, but it surely had full 5G service throughout our go to. However, Qualcomm reps demonstrated the method for connecting to satellites and it solely took a number of seconds to maneuver the cellphone into place. And they claimed connecting in a real off-grid setting ought to be almost as seamless.

Once linked to a satellite tv for pc, the demo gadgets have been capable of ship textual content messages to a preset whitelist of contacts. Qualcomm says that characteristic will stay in place to make sure spam texts will not clog up the satellite tv for pc networks. However, the corporate famous that OEMs may make the messaging really feel extra like a conventional messaging app than the demo interface we previewed. 

There are a number of different limitations in contrast with normal messaging apps. Satellite messages are restricted to 140 bytes or about 160 characters, making them extra like an old-school SMS than what you’d anticipate with trendy apps. And you’ll be able to’t ship pictures or movies by way of satellite tv for pc.

It will guide you to position the phone in the optimal spot to connect to a satellite.

Karissa Bell / Engadget

It’s additionally price noting that not like Apple’s Emergency SOS, Qualcomm intends Snapdragon Satellite for use for non-emergency messaging as nicely. That may make the Android model just a little extra helpful as you possibly can use satellite tv for pc messaging to remain in contact with household and pals in areas the place you’d usually be out of attain. However, there’ll possible be extra costs related to non-emergency texts so that you’ll most likely nonetheless wish to average your utilization of the characteristic. (Qualcomm declined to take a position on how a lot these messages may cost a little, but it surely appears protected to imagine these messages will likely be costlier than a typical SMS.)

Also, not like Apple’s satellite tv for pc communication options, which additionally permits folks to make emergency voice calls, Snapdragon Satellite solely permits for emergency texts, not calls. For really pressing conditions, the corporate has partnered with Garmin, which makes a satellite-based emergency communication machine of its personal known as inReach. That means emergency texts will likely be routed to the identical staff that handles SOS calls from inReach gadgets.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get lots of specifics about once we’ll see telephones with Snapdragon Satellite hit cabinets, or what number of gadgets may have these capabilities. For now, Samsung says it expects to see satellite-ready telephones from “multiple” OEMs beginning within the second half of 2023. At the identical time, that doesn’t imply the options are assured for all Android telephones with an X70 modem and Qualcomm SOC. According to Qualcomm, that’s as a result of X70-equipped telephones launching earlier than the second half of the 12 months don’t have all the mandatory {hardware} to help Snapdragon Satellite connectivity.

But, now that we all know the {hardware} necessities, within the coming months we should always start to get a greater concept of which gadgets may have the satellite tv for pc messaging capabilities.

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