Android 14 will support satellite connectivity according to Google’s Senior Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer. He has confirmed that the company is ‘designing for satellites’ and supports its partners in bringing this feature to the next version of Android. This revelation comes almost a week after T-Mobile and SpaceX announced their plan to eliminate dead zones around the world with Starlink V2. It will connect users directly to satellites eliminating the need for cellphone towers. Similarly, a recent report suggests that Apple already has satellite connectivity working on the iPhone 14.
Lockheimer hints that the user experience for smartphones directly connecting to a satellite will be vastly different from regular cellular connectivity. Not much else was revealed by him, except this feature will be enabled in Android 14.
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
In related news, SpaceX and T-Mobile have partnered to also bring satellite connectivity to phones in the US. The telecom operator plans to utilise thousands of Starlink satellites to give mobile users wireless connectivity in remote parts of the country. This service could offer text message support by the second half of 2023. Voice and data services are expected to arrive later.
Elon Musk also tweeted that the Starlink V2 service will be launched in 2023 with the plans of “eliminating dead zones worldwide.” He offered an open invitation to other carriers to work with Starlink.
Apple is also keen on offering satellite connectivity on the upcoming iPhone 14 series. According to a recent report, the Cupertino company had already finished the hardware test for satellite communication on iPhone 14 before the smartphones reached the mass production stage. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is unsure about the availability of this feature on the iPhone 14 as Apple will have to strike a deal with a satellite operator. If it is included, satellite connectivity on the iPhone 14 series will only offer emergency text and voice services.