Here's another hint we're going to get satellite messaging in Android 15

Google Pixel 8 review front straight handheld
The Pixel 8 is one of the phones that's showing potential new functionality (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Since Apple offered emergency satellite communications on the iPhone 14 in 2022, we've been waiting for Android phones to catch up – and it seems as though that might finally happen with the roll out of Android 15 later this year.

As reported by Android Authority, several T-Mobile customers in the US who've signed up to the Android 15 public beta on their Pixel phones are seeing new satellite messaging screens on their devices, even though the functionality hasn't gone live yet.

"You can send and receive text messages by satellite as part of an eligible T-Mobile account," reads one of the messages that have now appeared. "Your phone will auto-connect to a satellite" when a mobile network isn't available, reads another.

This neatly matches up with previous rumors that have been swirling for months at this point – in fact, satellite messaging was supposed to be making an appearance in Android 14 last year, but that never came to pass.

Hardware and software support

Apple Emergency SOS via Satellite Hero best

Satellite messaging is already available on the iPhone (Image credit: Future)

It's perhaps not surprising that it's taken a while for Android to catch up to iOS with satellite connectivity. Not only does it need to be integrated at the software level, it also needs to be compatible with the hardware, the carrier, and the satellite network.

These are all areas Apple has a high degree of control over, whereas Android phones involve more companies and more partnerships. Everything needs to be lined up correctly: which may or may not be the case when Android 15 launches in full later this year.

T-Mobile has been busy working with the SpaceX Starlink network to make direct-to-cell capabilities possible – satellites that can talk to standard cell phones, with no special components required. This would certainly make the tech more broadly available.

According to earlier leaks and these new screens, Android might go one better than the iPhone by letting you message any contact over satellite when you have no phone signal – not just the emergency services. Expect more news in the coming months.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

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.