Following last week’s announcement by SpaceX and T-Mobile that direct satellite connectivity would be made accessible for devices, Google claimed today that the future version of Android (14) will “assist our partners in delivering all of this.”
According to today’s announcement by Google’s Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer, “it was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working” on the first Android phone to sell (HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1) in 2008.
We recently learned that Android 14 (the “next version of Android”) is being “developed for satellites” by the Android team. Expect the debut of such an OS in the second half of 2023.
Lockheimer notes that “user experiences for phones that can link to satellites” will be different from those of normal LTE and 5G connections. Space Explored warned last week that with only “two to four megabits of bandwidth per cellular zone,” speeds, connection, and even contact durations would need to be adjusted.
To quote Elon Musk, “one to two thousand simultaneous voice calls or hundreds of thousands of text messages that might be sent depending on the length of the text message” are possible with satellite communication.
Satellite-enabled mobile phones are frequently utilized for emergency situations and to fill coverage gaps in cellular networks. T-Mobile will enable multimedia messaging service (MMS), text messaging, and “chosen messaging apps.” According to the firm, “messaging traffic must be isolated from all other data flow.”
This will necessitate working with third parties. Work has not yet started on this, but will in the following months. They plan to eventually think about adding phone and data support. Initial beta access to the service is expected to go live in late 2023.
While older iPhones and Android devices will continue to function, enhanced OS-level support should enhance performance and usability for everyone. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and SpaceX are advocating for the adoption of spectrum sharing and “reciprocal roaming” by other operators. There is a growing need for native support, thus it makes sense for Android to provide it.