Can Apple’s New iPhone 14 Replace Your Garmin inReach?
Sep 12, 2022 at 2:39 pm #3759879Andrew MarshallBPL Member
@andrewsmarshallLocale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians
Companion forum thread to: Can Apple’s New iPhone 14 Replace Your Garmin inReach?
Should/will the iPhone 14 replace my Garmin inReach (or similar satellite messaging devices)?Sep 13, 2022 at 5:57 pm #3759954
noSep 15, 2022 at 11:57 am #3760036Trace RichardsonBPL Member
I don’t use an inreach, but I’m struggling to find many reasons using the iPhone it isn’t better than my RescueME PLB as long as my iphone is charged / not broken. No battery concerns is one advantage a PLB has but the texting component of the iPhone is also better than simply sending an SOS with a non text compatible PLB.Sep 16, 2022 at 10:57 am #3760099
Outside Online has a couple of articles.Sep 17, 2022 at 10:07 am #3760165MontmolarBPL Member
As a European we rarely use PLBs in the first place and thus I find the added feature of the iPhone really compelling.
It basically means I do have added security on my Alpine endeavors without getting another gadget/device to keep track off.
Will probably hold off for now though, since I am hoping the iPhone 15 will finally come with USB-C…Sep 21, 2022 at 3:53 pm #3760518Myke HBPL Member
I trust my iPhone way more than my Garmin inreach mini. The inreach is not a good device at all. The plan is terrible and would be reason enough for me to ditch it. The user interface is just bad and the iPhone’s hardware is in a different league than the inreach. Additionally, my inreach has way worse battery life. Give it a couple years and there will be ZERO reason to own an inreach.Oct 2, 2022 at 9:08 am #3761150Dylan JBPL Member
The incidence rate of satellite device SOS messages sent where the subjects could/do self rescue will also be dependent on the cell phone coverage in the area and the ability to reach 911. My general observation is that the number of satellite SOS calls made by people who self rescue have increased this year.
As has been said, our preference is still to be notified of a situation before it becomes more serious. What is potentially more of an issue is when people self rescue and do not update the responding SAR team with that information. As the technology becomes more available to users who aren’t as backcountry savvy, it would be helpful to include instructional messages to users who activate an SOS type message.Oct 2, 2022 at 9:26 am #3761153Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I agree Myke, inreach is a bad device like you said
Except the cheapest plan, $15 per month, includes 10 messages per month. I always send pre-set messages which are free, so my wife can do 10 replies each month, which she never exceeds. So I’m okay with their plans.
And I never run out of battery on a week long trip.
Even though sometimes it takes an hour or more to get satellite reception and send a message and the user experience is poor, I am still able to always send a message and receive a reply.
In a year or two when my phone can do that without inreach, I will happily retire it. One of these years I need to replace my phone anyway.Nov 14, 2022 at 12:37 am #3765008
Apple invested $450,000,000 to make satellite Emergency SOS and Find My (SOS/FM) work, most of that going to Globalstar upgrades. I’m sure Globalstar appreciated the investment, since in my opinion their existing devices and services have sucked for a long time.
Apple: “The ground stations use new high-power antennas designed and manufactured specifically for Apple by Cobham Satcom in Concord, California.”
“To increase reliability and coverage, these new antennas were installed in all Globalstar worldwide ground stations, including new ground stations in Nevada and Hawaii, as well as existing facilities in Texas, Alaska, Florida, and Puerto Rico.”
Globastar SPOT-X one-way messaging doesn’t cover Hawaii now, maybe an Apple exclusive.
Looks like Apple plans to roll out SOS/FM for most of the rest of the world. But Globalstar’s “bent pipe” system has limits.
Apple probably invested $450M for services far beyond SOS/FM. iPhone 14’s should be able to use those new features. Maybe iOS security updates via satellite :-)
Apple: “iPhone users can launch their Find My app and share their location via satellite when there is no cellular and Wi-Fi connection.”
Work out a simple Find My code with home contacts: Three FM pings per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) from planned on-route locations means everything is OK. If ping locations are significantly slower, faster, or different than expected, plans have changed. Three from the same location means something’s wrong, but it’s not an emergency. And so on. Wonder how much battery energy each satellite FM ping will take?
inReach messages sometimes take a while to go through, but it’s mostly “send and forget.” Apple’s service requires waving your phone around until it locks onto a satellite. Room for improvement.
— RexNov 14, 2022 at 11:43 am #3765057
Buried near the end of Apple’s press release (emphasis added):
“With upgraded ground stations, and soon an updated satellite constellation, Apple and Globalstar will ensure the [satellite radio] spectrum continues to enable emergency services.”
“Globalstar expects to launch the satellites by the end of 2025.” I’ve been watching this industry for a long time; end of 2025 probably means 2026 or later.
Apple and Globalstar have been working on this for a while now. February 2022: “the potential customer [almost certainly Apple] will reimburse Globalstar for 95% of the approved capital expenditures Globalstar makes in connection with the new satellites.” That’s probably where most of Apple’s $450M is going – new satellites and launches.
Wouldn’t surprise me if Apple buys Globalstar. Apple likes to control the whole customer experience, for better or worse.
Smartphone texting via satellite – probably within a year or two. Smartphone calls via satellite – maybe about the same time, thanks to AI-driven audio compression.
— RexNov 14, 2022 at 1:44 pm #3765074
I didn’t realize Globalstar was based out of Covington, Louisiana.Nov 15, 2022 at 8:45 am #3765189
The satellite feature rolls out today and DC Rainmaker is showing how it works.Nov 21, 2022 at 7:52 pm #3765921
One real-world test of Apple’s iPhone 14 satellite “Find My” feature:
In brief, disappointing on many levels.
Seems most reviewers are not lightweight backpackers, and can’t imagine scenarios that might include us.
— RexDec 1, 2022 at 8:31 pm #3766685No Limu, just DougBPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The CascadesDec 2, 2022 at 7:28 pm #3766758Chris FormyDuvalBPL Member
Anyone know of good location apps that send a bread crumb trail? Just thinking it could be useful for the family members of dayhikers/runners to follow along without requiring much user initiation. Send updates when in cell coverage to occasionally show progress. For people that might find it hard to justify a satellite message device but want to provide some info to those at home.Dec 3, 2022 at 2:20 am #3766764
Wouldn’t be surprised if near-future versions of the Apple Watch Ultra also have Satellite SOS/Find My, and even satellite messaging or tracking.
On such a small device, satellite communications could seriously drain the tiny battery. So Apple might add built-in solar charging, like several other outdoor-oriented smartwatches.
Apple smartphone and smartwatch competitors are likely working on similar plans. Actual “cell towers in space” supplied by hundreds or thousands of Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellites will have a big impact – IF those systems succeed.
When most of that happens, sales of Garmin’s inReach and similar devices could plummet. But existing satellite communicators should keep running for a long time, as older satellite system operators like Iridium pivot to other markets but maintain backward compatibility.
Lightweight backpackers soon could be faced with a dizzying array of backcountry communication choices – for better or worse.
— RexDec 3, 2022 at 11:58 am #3766782Dylan JBPL Member
The CalTopo app will do this on your phone, but I don’t know the specifics of what this is like to setup for an individual. We use this on our SAR team and it is extremely useful to get realtime updates when in service or two way updates when we are in an out.Dec 3, 2022 at 12:05 pm #3766783DWR DBPL Member
hundreds or thousands of Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellites will have a big impact
Yes… negative impacts on the night sky for astronomers, night sky photographers, and those of us who just enjoy star viewing without without the streaks of light moving across the sky…Dec 3, 2022 at 3:43 pm #3766814David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Someone just got saved from between Noorvik (66°50′) and Kotzebue (66°54′) Alaska so despite the caution I’ve seen in some write-ups that coverage is best south of 62N and potentially spotty beyond, someone was successful.
Of course, on the northwestern shore of Alaska, there are never any trees or hills in your way.
Chris: IPhone 14’s have a provision to use the “Find My” function with satellites so you could let your contacts know where you are periodically. You’re limited to a few such locates per hour, so it’s not continuous breadcrumbs and you have to hold your phone in the position indicated on the screen for 15-30 seconds (and longer in marginal settings) to complete the transmission, which would be a downside for competitive runners / bikers. But for backpacking, doing so at breakfast, lunch and dinner would give people back home a lot of info.
Sending a few “Find My” locations would be great practice, without bothering SAR, and build confidence (or find weaknesses) in transmitting from your area/terrain/tree cover.Jan 2, 2023 at 11:45 pm #3769112
If you get into trouble in the backcountry, and the iPhone 14 satellite SOS feature fails and you die, who will find out? Or you suffer from another traumatic brain injury and can’t remember if you triggered it or not, but get help anyway?
Seems like the only stories that will make the news are when satellite SOS works. Which helps Apple sell the service, for a charge to be determined in a couple of years.
But doesn’t help the rest of us judge how often it fails. Confirmation bias at work again?
PS: Same could be said about inReach, PLBs, and similar satellite SOS devices.Jan 3, 2023 at 5:40 pm #3769169ArthurBPL Member
This is why the InReach has it all over the phone. I send back tracking every 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the hike or bike ride. It does it without my interaction with it, unlike the phone. If I don’t report in that day, whoever I have asked to track me, can check my location on the web. No movement, and the device is still sending tracking points, they know I am incapacitated and exactly where I am. Not instant notification, but better than next week. Cardiac arrest, no help. Head injury or multiple trauma from a fall, the InReach gives me a chance. And the battery lasts for days and days.Jan 16, 2023 at 2:43 pm #3770470Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
in your article you say “Dedicated satellite messengers have two-way functionality, while the iPhone 14’s messaging functionality is limited to one-way communication (for now).”
This is partially correct. The iphone sos does have 2 day communication to SAR, but not p2p.
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