We’ve heard whispers that Apple could add satellite support to the iPhone 14 to keep users connected no matter where they are – and now it seems Google has similar plans for its software and hardware in 2023.
It comes from the senior vice president of Android Hiroshi Lockheimer (opens in a new tab) (by XDA Developers (opens in a new tab)), who claims his team “designs for satellites” and “will enable it all in the next version of Android” – Android 14.
Android 13 has just started coming out, so Android 14 should arrive next year. If software support lets you access services over satellite networks, it’s likely a feature that could hit Google Pixel 8 later in 2023.
It’s wild to think about the experience of users of phones that can connect to satellites. When we launched the G1 in 2008, it was difficult to get 3G + Wi-Fi up and running. Now we design for satellites. Cool! We’re excited to support our partners to make it all possible in the next version of Android!September 1, 2022
Lockheimer doesn’t go into too much detail here and this is clearly still in the very early stages. From what we’ve gathered from Apple rumors, it appears that satellite connections can be used in emergencies in areas where there is no cellular coverage.
This is just the second peep we’ve heard from anyone about Android 14 that will most likely be announced at the Google IO event next May. Earlier it was rumored that the operating system had been given a code name, but that’s about it for now.
There have also been not many leaks and rumors about the Pixel 8 (Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are expected to arrive next month) – only that the Tensor 3 chipset for the Pixel 8 is apparently already under development.
Analysis: modernization of communication
You may remember that satellite connectivity is rumored to arrive with the iPhone 13 in 2021, so this innovative mobile technology didn’t come out of nowhere – at this point, it had been in the pipeline for several years.
However, satellite-enabled smartphones seem to be taking a new momentum: technology becomes more reliable and cheaper, and is now making its way into products that consumers can afford and buy.
The idea is that instead of finding a cell tower or Wi-Fi network to connect to, devices can access the rest of the world by locking onto a satellite in a space operated by a company like Starlink – a bit like GPS, but for data, and not to determine the location.
The next step is to put it in smartphones as well, but don’t expect too much too soon: your connectivity will likely be limited to emergency or back-up use, so you won’t be able to stream videos in the middle of nowhere.