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Apple wants the iPhone to be a lifesaver, literally

This story is part Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

In 2000, the story of Chuck Noland gripped the country. He was traveling on a plane for work on Christmas Eve when he hit a terrible storm and crashed into the ocean. He was the only survivor. For four years he was stuck alone on an island. If he had had Apple’s iPhone 14he may have been able to call for help from a satellite orbiting several miles above.

Noland is a fictional character, played by Tom Hanks in the hit survival film Cast Away. But the iPhone 14 is real.

Over the past two weeks, Apple has released its latest iPhones and Apple Watches, all of which come with a host of features to make people feel more secure. This year, devices are designed to keep up as you dive in the ocean, hike off the grid or do more mundane tasks like looking for a friend in a crowd or driving home from school. Among the features are car accident detection and a way to use satellites to call for help even when you don’t have cell service.

“These products have become essential in our lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said when announcing the devices earlier this month. As if to emphasize this point, company executives repeated the word “essential” nearly a dozen times while showing off its new products. “They are always with you, useful where and when you need them, and are designed to work together seamlessly.”

These characteristics may seem extreme — how often you exploring desolate deserts? — but they add to the sense of trust that Apple hopes to forge. At a time when much of our collective faith in the tech industry has been shaken by seemingly endless privacy breaches, political controversies and the outright lies of tech executives, the very idea that Apple wants us to trust it even more might seem silly. And Apple’s marketing to save our lives may seem like overkill.

Apple’s new iPhone 14 has better cameras and faster chips, but it also has features that could save people’s lives.

James Martin/CNET

Read more: CNET iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max review

If we ignore the power of the tech industry in our lives, we wonder if we’ve become too dependent on it all. It’s gotten so bad that some people regularly go on “digital detoxes,” seeking vacation spots beyond the signals of cellphone carriers, hoping to disconnecting from the rhythm seemingly non-stop of modern life.

But the iPhone maker is charting a course by building on its health and safety features, alongside a growing list of privacy enhancements so effective they’ve frustrated advertisers, law enforcement and other technology companies.

“Apple is taking this concept of personal security to a whole new level,” said Tim Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies. He added that Apple’s competitors will likely try to replicate Apple’s security features as well, but the tech giant’s broader approach to security, privacy and now personal safety will help it stand up. stand out. “Basically they’re saying, ‘Listen, we’re going to protect you, we’ve got your back. “”

Apple Watch Series 8 displaying an ECG message

The Apple Watch has been credited with warning many people about previously undetected heart problems.


Increase security

Although Apple continues to add new security features to its devices, it has focused on these ideas for many years.

In 2017, Apple added an optional feature to the Apple Watch to detect abnormal heartbeats, which many customers have since said. warned them of health issues before a potential heart attack or stroke. In 2018, the company added fall detection for the Apple Watch, which calls emergency contacts and authorities if you don’t answer. that you are fine after a fall. This too has saved lives.

While new features such as collision detection and satellite calls for help may be in the works for Apple’s latest iPhone, the company also appears to be trying to add security technology to older devices. With its free iOS 16 software update for iPhone, Apple adds Safety Check to help victims of domestic violence Escape abusive situations more easily. It also adds lock mode, intended to restrict the communication features of the iPhone to protect the owner from a possible hacking attack.

It doesn’t take much to imagine how Apple’s new satellite feature will help people in an emergency. There are people like Aaron Ralston, a hiker and climber who, in 2003, was stuck for days in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, without a phone or any other way to call for help.

Read more: Apple Watch Ultra Review, “The Most Exciting Watch in Years”

What will differentiate Apple, industry watchers say, is that creating these technologies required a complex interplay of software, sensors and infrastructure like enough satellites in the sky to make it work.

Apple said it worked with first responders to develop its emergency satellite feature, asking users if they’ve been injured and how they can more effectively relay information to people receiving help. He also had to build relay stations to call 911 in places where emergency operators do not accept text messages.

“It took years to realize this vision through breakthrough hardware software and infrastructure innovation,” said Ashley Williams, head of satellite modeling and simulation at Apple, during the announcement of the new feature.

Although no other technology company currently offers a similar feature, T-Mobile and SpaceX also announced plans to offer similar technologies over the next two years. Verizon has a similar partnership with Amazon’s Project Kuiper. Analysts say more are likely on the way.

Growing trend

By the way of Apple its 15th year of making iPhonesone of the most difficult challenges he faces is how reinvent the supercomputer in our pockets. Of course, the company can speed up the operation of the device and improve the camera every year, but what more can it do?

Longtime Apple watchers say this year’s Apple Watch and iPhone may hold the key. “They try to understand the real issues that real people are dealing with,” said Maribel Lopezanalyst at Lopez Research.

“Some of the features were meant for everyone, and some of them were meant for very specific people,” she added. But they all revolve around fixing long-standing issues, like what to do when cell service isn’t working, in addition to basic things like making devices less likely to break when we drop them. “We’re in a world where people just want to hang out with their phone or their watch and not worry about it.”


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