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Qualcomm introduces satellite connectivity for Android devices

Qualcomm introduces satellite connectivity for Android devices

#Qualcomm #introduces #satellite #connectivity #Android #devices Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:

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A photo of the Snapdragon Satellite review unit

How Snapdragon Satellite instructs you to find a satellite. Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Qualcomm is working with satellite network provider Iridium to bring satellite connectivity to future Android devices. The technology is only suitable for two-way messaging. For emergencies, however, Qualcomm also has Garmin’s response service on board, which already uses the Iridium satellite network.

Unlike Apple’s satellite emergency SOS, Qualcomm’s isn’t fully baked. The company took us into the middle of the Nevada desert to see the action, but it was only possible through nondescript test equipment – I couldn’t even put the ability to practical use like I did when I reviewed Apple’s last year. Regardless, the announcement is great news for the Android platform, which currently doesn’t offer satellite connectivity, even in an emergency.

A photo of the Snapdragon Satellite review unit

The Snapdragon Satellite test device. Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Snapdragon Satellite promises “true global coverage” from “pole to pole” as Iridium’s satellites already operate worldwide. Smartphones can connect anywhere there is an Iridium-branded satellite, provided local jurisdiction allows it. Iridium uses Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, and the company says it currently has about 66 satellites available, with at least nine on standby to serve as backup.

Snapdragon Satellite’s messaging features are basic. You can send a maximum of 140 characters via SMS or another supported over-the-top (OTT) messaging app like WhatsApp. Qualcomm showed us what the Snapdragon Satellite app would look like, with options to contact emergency services or send a message to a whitelist of contacts. But ultimately, the onboarding is done by the Android OEMs who plan to implement the feature. It might look different on a Samsung device than a OnePlus device since both companies use a custom Android skin.

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A photo of the Snapdragon Satellite review unit

The Snapdragon Satellite app looks like this in testing, but it’s up to the OEMs to style it how they see fit. Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

However, the emergency functionality should remain the same throughout. If you try to dial 9-1-1 and there is no cellular connection, the Snapdragon Satellite app will prompt you for help. Again, Qualcomm failed to show how Garmin would handle the emergency response. But it seems it will work similarly to how iOS handles routing for emergency SOS via satellite.

Smartphones equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will be the first available phones to work with Snapdragon Satellite, although they must be equipped with the required RF bands. Iridium relies on a specific L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink – between 1600 and 1626.5 MHz. Products launching in the first half of the year are unlikely to have this capability, said Francesco Gatta, Qualcomm’s senior director of technology. “We just announced this partnership. Several OEMs are already working on devices that should be available in the second half of the year.”

A photo of the Snapdragon Satellite review unit

A Qualcomm spokesperson shows us what to look out for when sending a text message via satellite. Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Eventually, Qualcomm hopes Snapdragon Satellite will make it into other connected devices like cars and IoT. But for now, the company is focused on bringing it to Android first. Satellite connectivity has been quite a buzzword ever since Apple really maxed out its capabilities. And while Apple’s scope is a bit more limited, as it relies on its call centers for emergency routing, it’s live and operational for at least iPhone 14 users and beyond.

Snapdragon Satellite will not be available on Google’s Pixel smartphones. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 use Google’s in-house Tensor chip, so it’s entirely up to the company to put it in the next-gen processor. However, there were reports that the next version of Android 14 would support satellite connectivity, which bodes well for the Snapdragon Satellite launch later this year. However, whether Google will offer a similar solution for Pixel users remains to be seen.

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