Last week, SpaceX announced it would bring satellite connectivity to smartphones in collaboration with T-Mobile. Following this, Google announced it would support satellite connectivity in the next version of Android 14 and help partners in enabling the technology.
The news comes from Google’s Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer, recalling how strenuous it was to get 3G + Wi-Fi working on the first Android phone HTC Dream, also known as T-Mobile G1.
Wild to think about user experiences for phones that can connect to satellites. When we launched G1 in ’08 it was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working. Now we’re designing for satellites. Cool! Excited to support our partners in enabling all of this in the next version of Android!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 1, 2022
However, it should be noted that satellite connectivity in phones won’t offer fast-speed internet but instead works on eliminating zones where there is no cellular connectivity and help in emergency situations.
T-Mobile said it will initially support text messaging, MMS and select messaging apps. The company went on to say that in the long term, they would also consider supporting data and voice. The network carrier expects to start the initial beta sometime in late 2023. And while existing phones and Android devices will get support, the inclusion of operating system level support would be highly helpful.
That said, the known Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo also suggested that Apple is working with Globalstar to bring satellite connectivity to the iPhone 14 series. But unless the tech giant manages to get a legal permit in India, it would have to disable the feature.