Google has previously confirmed that texting via satellite link will be an option in Android 14, and a new leak based on hidden snippets of code suggests that Garmin is going to be helping to make this a reality.
Developer Neil Rahmouni (via SamMobile) spotted the as-yet-unused code snippets in question, which mention a "Garmin Response" option for users wanting to get some support with their satellite texting inside Google Messages.
Rahmouni previously reported that satellite connectivity was coming to Google Messages, which is the default SMS application for Android. However, the developer himself warns that "everything is subject to change" at this point.
Garmin already has several products with satellite communication capabilities on the market. The company uses the Iridium satellite network, so it would appear that Android is going to tap into the same system for its own features.
Looks like Google Messages may use Garmin Response for the Satellite Emergency SOSIf true it could mean that Emergency Satellite messages would be available in 150+ countries👀https://t.co/egVqM6JaJV(1st screen is a mockup, 2nd are the translations found in Google Messages) pic.twitter.com/Rza9BUxJwJAugust 28, 2023
As we've already seen from the iPhone 14, satellite connectivity on a smartphone isn't designed for streaming 4K video – at least not yet. It's there for sending emergency messages if you can't connect to a standard cellular network.
Almost a year ago, senior vice president of Android Hiroshi Lockheimer said that the feature would be available in Android this year. It's not turned up in any of the early beta releases, but it looks almost ready to go.
Garmin's existing network covers more than 150 countries, so presumably Android 14 would do the same. You are going to need a phone with a satellite modem inside it though – something not many have right now, as the feature hasn't gone live yet.
Handsets such as the Google Pixel 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S24 should arrive on the market with both the necessary hardware and the necessary software for satellite communications – which may well be delivered courtesy of Garmin.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.