Satellite connectivity and partners will be supported by Android 14

The next version of Android (14) will enable our partners in making all of this possible, according to Google, who announced it today. Last week, SpaceX and T-Mobile announced that they will deliver direct satellite access to devices.

This information comes from Google’s Senior Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer, who revealed this morning that it took some effort to get 3G Wifi working on the first Android phone to market (HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1) in 2008.

The Android team is currently working on designing for satellites, and Google informed us that Android 14 will include this functionality. Mid- to late-2023 should see the release of such OS.

Lockheimer makes a hint about how satellite-capable phones’ user interfaces will differ from those of LTE and 5G connections. With only two to four megabits of bandwidth per cellular zone, expect speeds, connectivity, and even interaction times to differ, as Space Explored observed last week. According to Elon Musk, given the available bandwidth, satellite connectivity may accommodate up to 2,000 simultaneous voice calls or hundreds of thousands of text messages, depending on the duration of each.

Phones with satellite connectivity are generally used to eliminate dead spots in cellular networks and handle emergencies. In addition to MMS and some messaging apps, T-Mobile intends to enable (text) messaging. The carrier stated that in order to isolate message traffic from all other data traffic, partnerships would be required. This work hasn’t begun yet, but it will in the upcoming months. In the long run, it will consider supporting voice and data. The service’s initial beta launch is scheduled for late 2023.

Existing iPhone and Android devices will still be supported, but greater OS-level support should improve the overall user experience, especially for end users. T-Mobile and SpaceX, meanwhile, are urging additional carriers to implement reciprocal roaming and spectrum sharing. As adoption rises, it makes logical for Android to offer native support.

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