Google to adopt important iPhone feature on its Pixel phones

Satellite messaging planned for new and old Google Pixel phones

Google Pixel 7a
(Image credit: Google)
Quick Summary

A feature was found on a Google Pixel phone that suggests satellite messaging is coming to the handset family.

It will allow users to remain in contact by text during an emergency, even when there is no mobile or data connection.

One of the most impressive features that most iPhone users will hope to never have to resort to, satellite messaging, is coming to Android phones

Google is working on a feature it's calling "Satellite SOS" for certain Pixel phones, such as the Google Pixel 8, as discovered by the team at 9to5Google

The site was able to use a Pixel phone to find a settings menu for the new feature, potentially rolled out in error by Google, by heading to "Settings" and then tapping into "Safety & emergency".

The Satellite SOS menu was there to interact with, although none of its buttons or features actually worked as yet. 

By accessing the same menu on a phone they'd jailbroken, the team was able to access the menus and see some descriptions, including one that said: "With your Pixel, you can message with emergency services and share your location when you can’t connect to a mobile or Wi-Fi network."

That sounds strikingly similar to Apple's own satellite feature – for use as a final resort if you're stranded or in trouble somewhere that doesn't have great mobile network coverage. Giving Android users a similar feature feels like a no-brainer for Google. 

There were also apparently buttons in that menu to let you try the feature out to see how it works, but they too weren't working. 

A link to a Garmin Search and Rescue Insurance plan in one of the descriptions, meanwhile, suggests that Google will be teaming up with Garmin in some capacity on this feature – which makes sense since Garmin has great satellite connectivity already thanks to its wide range of rugged and navigational devices. 

What's left unclear by all of this is when and how Google will actually roll out the Satellite SOS feature properly. It does indeed look a lot like this has been an accidental peek behind the curtain.

Whether the feature will arrive as a software update, or is in fact just in the works for future Pixel devices and still a way off being released is hard to say at this point. Hopefully, though, we won't have to wait too much longer to learn more from the horse's mouth. 

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.