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Apple’s new Messages via Satellite feature will be free, for now

At WWDC Apple announced it would be adding satellite messaging to its Messages app beyond the Emergency SOS feature, which is currently free to iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 users.

However, many observers felt that given the expense of providing this technology, Apple may command a subscription fee for the service. That may not be the case, at least initially, judging by interviews Apple has given in the wake of WWDC.

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Apple confirmed to CNET there’d be no charge for Messages via Satellite, at least for the opening forays.

“With just a software update, we’re going be able to make this broadly available to tons of people overnight,” said Apple’s Kurt Knight, the company’s senior director of platform product marketing.

Apple currently provides free access to the Emergency SOS feature for two years, so it might be the extension is also available for free for a limited time before Apple brings in a subscription fee.

You can imagine this will be a quite widely used feature by people simply travelling on planes, rather than paying for expensive in-flight Wi-Fi to stay in touch with loved ones. So it’s unlikely that Apple will foot the cost of providing the service forever.

The report also mentioned the technology supports many of the Messages features familiar to millions of users, such as Tapbacks and effects in iMessage, although it won’t work in group chats. You won’t be able to send pictures or videos either.

Even though SMS texting is also compatible with the feature, but not end-to-end encrypted, the CNET report also revealed it won’t work over the incoming RCS standard because the data packets are still too large.

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