YouTuber Brian Tong is distracted. While walking like everyone else near Stevens Creek Reservoir in California, he exited his car without turning off his headlights. After recharging his batteries in the middle of nature, he returns to his vehicle and finds that he can no longer open anything. And although we are only 10 km from Apple Park (surely a coincidence), it is a white zone. It would have been really bad luck if Brian hadn’t had a brand new iPhone 15 Pro with him, a smartphone that can contact roadside assistance via satellite!
Video shot by Brian Tong, as are all images below.
The opportunity was too good not to test this new thing, you think. No more sarcasm, the demonstration is interesting because the procedure is a little different from the satellite emergency calls launched last year. To initiate a call, you need to open the Messages app and start a conversation with a recipient named “roadside.” You don’t have to add it to your contacts first, iOS 17 offers the functionality automatically if you don’t have access to a cellular network.
In the Messages app, you can contact support via satellite when iPhone is out of cellular range.
Then the Apple interface we already know appears, which confirms the activation of the functionality and reminds us of the instructions. To reach the satellites you have to be outside and wait while sending and receiving each message. The system will also prompt you to select the service provider you want to contact for troubleshooting, knowing that the functionality was only introduced with AAA in the US. However, it is encouraging to know that everything is ready for launch in other countries.
Before you start the satellite call, iOS 17 reminds you of the rules.
The exchange then takes place directly via the messaging app, more freely than with emergency calls. The first message will ask you to enter the AAA membership number, although anyone can benefit from the paid repair service, and then enter the zip code of the location where you want to intervene. You then need to enter the brand name, model, year and color of the vehicle and you can send a repair company to take care of small problems such as a dead battery or a flat tire.
The discussion with the operator takes place by sending messages.
The video is not real time and we cannot tell when the satellite exchange ends. However, sending and receiving can take tens of seconds each time, and even then only under optimal conditions. Of course, you must also expect that you will have to wait for the repair company to intervene, especially in remote areas. But in any case, it will always be better than having to walk a few (tens?) kilometers to find a cell phone network and only then call for help…
Apple has not provided a timeline for opening this expansion of satellite emergency services to the rest of the world. However, we know that the same functionality is theoretically valid for two years, even though the free period was recently extended by one year.