Google could be set to launch satellite SOS features on its Pixel phones

Google Pixel 8 review front straight
Could the Pixel 8 get satellite comms? (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Apple introduced satellite SOS connectivity to its handsets with the iPhone 14 in 2022, but – despite plenty of rumors – it isn't yet available on Android. Now it looks as though the feature might be appearing on Google Pixel phones in the near future.

If you're not familiar with emergency SOS satellite messaging, it enables you to get help even when you don't have an active cellular or Wi-Fi connection. It's already been credited with saving the lives of people who've been stranded a long way from home.

As spotted by 9to5Google, a "Satellite SOS" option has actually started popping up in the Safety & emergency section of the settings on Pixel phones. We've been able to see it for ourselves on a Google Pixel 8.

Right now, tapping on the option doesn't actually do anything. It looks as though Google has put the feature live before it was ready – but preparations are clearly being made to add satellite connectivity to the Pixel series at some point.

Hidden screens

Google Pixel satellite connectivity

We've seen the feature for ourselves – but it doesn't do anything (Image credit: Future)

The team at 9to5Google was able to dig a bit deeper and find some more screens relating to the Satellite SOS feature. Garmin is mentioned, a company that has previously been rumored to be helping Google out with satellite connectivity.

"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," reads the text on one of the pages that 9to5Google was able to uncover in the Pixel code.

While this has been spotted on Pixel phones, it's perfectly possible that it'll come to other Android devices as well. We were expecting both the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Samsung Galaxy S24 to have the feature, though it hasn't shown up yet.

It's not just a case of flicking a switch either: satellite connectivity needs a chipset and antennas that support it, and it's not clear if the latest Pixel or Galaxy S phones have the necessary hardware. It might be something that's kept for the Google Pixel 9.

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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.