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Satellite messaging specifically referenced in latest beta of Messages (APK teardown)

Google's interest in satellite messaging is no secret, but could it be imminent?

Published onMarch 20, 2024

Android satellite messaging settings
  • The latest beta of Google Messages has references to Android satellite messaging.
  • Based on what we see, the system appears to mimic Apple’s Emergency SOS feature.
  • We expect this to roll out with Android 15, based on previous leaks and research.

In 2022, Apple announced an iPhone service called Emergency SOS. Using satellite messaging, the system allows iPhone 14/15 users to connect to satellites to contact emergency services. Since the rollout, we’ve all been wondering when Android would get its own similar service. Today, in an APK teardown of the latest beta of Google Messages, we see hints that this could be imminent.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

In the latest Google Messages 20240318_00_RC00 beta, we’ve spotted strings that directly reference satellite messaging for emergency situations:

<string name="end_of_emergency_help_needed">I still need help. I ended satellite messaging.</string>

<string name="end_of_emergency_help_not_needed">"I don't need help. I ended satellite messaging."</string>

Elsewhere, we see other simpler strings referencing “emergency” and an “emergency demo.” The former indicates a possible way to initiate an emergency situation, and the latter could be referencing a demo of the feature so users can familiarize themselves with it before an actual emergency.

Judging from these strings, we assume a user would initiate an emergency situation in Messages and then communicate with an emergency responder. These strings could reference canned responses for use when the person cannot adequately respond anymore but still needs to update the emergency services provider on what is happening.

Previously, Android Authority posted about references to satellite messaging in the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 release. This included a Satellite Messaging page within Android Settings. We surmised then that this would be a feature within Android 15, and this new information only supports that idea.

We reached out to Google for a comment on this news but did not immediately hear back. We will update the article if and when we receive a response.

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