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Apple appears to be laying the groundwork for a new moneymaking iPhone feature

Dominick Reuter   

Apple appears to be laying the groundwork for a new moneymaking iPhone feature
  • Apple's new iOS 18 will make iPhone 14s and later models less reliant on WiFi and cell connectivity.
  • The company is expanding an emergency satellite-messaging feature introduced with the iPhone 14.

Several of Apple's iOS 18 software features will make the iPhone 14 and later models less reliant on WiFi and cellular connectivity — and could even make the company less reliant on iPhone sales.

The company is expanding an emergency-messaging feature, introduced with the iPhone 14, that enables devices to contact first responders via satellite.

While the service was launched as free, Apple indicated at the time that it would likely charge for the emergency feature, then extended the free period for another year.

But then, at last week's WWDC, the company unveiled a nonemergency version of the service it's calling "messages via satellite."

"Now you can use the satellite capabilities on iPhone 14 and later to connect to satellites hundreds of miles above the Earth to text your friends and family when you're off the grid," Ronak Shah, Apple's head of internet-technologies product marketing, said.

The functionality will support sending and receiving messages, emojis, and tapbacks, all with end-to-end encryption, as well as SMS messaging.

While the emergency service is free — and could likely stay that way — the nonemergency version could become a source of profits as Apple grows its services business to offset slowing iPhone sales. Last quarter, the company reported record services revenue, while iPhone sales fell 10% from a year earlier.

For now, messages via satellite might be most useful as a nudge for owners of older iPhone models to upgrade, especially if the service expands to support calls and other media.

But the financial upside could be even better for the company if it decides to charge for the service, as it does for Apple Music, News+, and TV+.




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