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Apple unveils satellite messaging feature. Here’s how it works.

No cellular service? No problem. The latest of Apple’s (AAPL) new features enables satellite communication, part of a suite of technological innovations unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that sent the company’s shares to an all-time high on Tuesday.

Yahoo Finance technology editor Dan Howley is joined by Kurt Knight, Apple’s senior director of platform product marketing, for a demonstration of the new feature both for sending texts and other emergency messages.

“When you're off the grid, you can still be sharing your location to friends and family. [Requesting] roadside assistance, so if you've got some vehicle problems, even if you don't have cell phone connectivity, you can still get some help,” Knight tells Yahoo Finance.

Knight explains that the satellite feature is an expansion of existing offerings, like Emergency SOS, but clarifies that emergencies aren’t the only use case: “It's sort of the full gamut of communication,” he says.

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This article was written by Gabriel Roy

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Video transcript

All, we're here with Kurt Knight.

He is the senior director of product platform marketing for I Os, ipad, Os and Mac Os.

Kurt.

Thank you so much for joining us.

What can you tell us about satellite for messages?

Thank you.

I am so excited to be here.

Um Messages via satellite is a feature we just introduced yesterday.

It is part of a set of satellite features that we have introduced over the years.

Um And this is all about when you are off the grid, you don't have cellular, you don't have Wi Fi, you'll still be able to text and message your friends.

And then I guess, you know, when you're outside of the regular cell phone range, how does, how does it work?

How does it pick up what you're doing?

How does it know when you're in range in the satellite is absolutely incredible in that the phone can tell when it's off a cellular network and when you're off cellular networks turns out satellites are available everywhere and it's able to talk directly from your phone up into space to a satellite and then that satellite can then beam the information back down to earth again, it is incredible technology.

So there's, there's the ability to, to send messages.

But I mean, how, how many can you send?

What, what can you send?

Is it, is it limited to just text?

It's just like sending a message today and that you can send as many as you want.

There's not a limitation on it.

So you see, we've got this prompt automatically on the lock screen, it knows I'm off grid.

Um And so I can just tap here and it's gonna bring up this connection assistant.

And so in this one space, uh you can see that X has found us there in Cupertino and it has a set of satellite features available to me.

Um Of course, there's messages via satellite.

We're going to go into that in just a second.

There's find my.

So when you're off the grid, you can still be sharing your location to friends and family roadside assistance.

So if you've got some vehicle problems, even if you don't have cell phone connectivity, you can still get some help and then emergency S os let me show you inside of messages.

You get this experience right here to connect to satellite.

I might can bring this up to get a little bit better view of how I need to do.

So it does a really good job of letting me know what I need to do to stay connected with the satellite.

So I'll close that I'll go here to send a text message to Alex and I will say satellite message incoming and send that along.

And so right now that is going up to space and back down again.

And I'll also go ahead and send an emoji um over as well because you can just text, you can do emoji.

Um Both.

It is absolutely incredible right now, it's going 800 miles in space, the satellite's moving 15,000 MPH.

Um As it doesn't you see the scent indicator?

Um, it's already gone up and down again.

That's um, so Alex sees this.

Um, he's already replied to me.

I can reply to him with a tap back.

There's these new beautiful tap back and I was 18, I can scroll over where you can see, I can also tap back with an emoji.

Now I'll do the uh Yeah, absolutely.

Um So that is messages via satellite via iMessage.

This also works um in S MS.

So it gets the most broad usage.

Basically anyone with a phone you can send a message to via satellite.

And I guess what do you see as the use case for this is it?

I went out hiking.

I'm not very good at it and I got lost.

Is it I just need to get in touch with someone because I went camping and I, you know, I wanna make sure that I can still get in touch with my wife that I think the great thing about this is it's a great expansion of what we've been doing.

We've had um features before like emergency S OS which are amazing life saving features.

And this really broadens the aperture of what we're able to do.

You can be maybe out camping and just wanna check in and see, you know, maybe how the family is doing.

You can just be saying hello.

Um Or maybe it's something really important.

It's, it's sort of the full gamut of communication, what you might want to use it for?

Thankfully, I only car camp uh because I'm too much of a baby to do real camping.

Um I guess just as a, as a last, you know, what uh is it a subscription service?

How does it, how does it work uh in that regard?

So this is part of the set of satellite features um that we introduced again starting two years ago and as a I iphone 14 or iphone 15 user, um you get a free two years um of services as part of your phone and then you can just go from there if you want to continue on.

And then yeah, we will announce more details um later on how that goes.

Awesome, Kurt.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Really appreciate it.

Thanks.

Absolutely.

Thank you.