Google stated today that the upcoming version of Android (14) will “support our partners in enabling all of this,” following last week’s announcement by SpaceX and T-Mobile that direct satellite connectivity would be made available for smartphones.
This information comes from Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems at Google, who stated this morning that the first Android phone to sell (HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1) in 2008 “was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working.”
The “next version of Android,” which Google informed us is Android 14, is currently being “designed for satellites,” according to the Android team. Mid- to late-2023 should see the release of the such OS.
Lockheimer makes a reference to how conventional LTE and 5G connections won’t be the same as “user experiences for phones that can link to satellites.” With only “two to four megabits of bandwidth per cellular zone,” as Space Explored noted last week, expect speeds, connectivity, and even interaction times to differ.
According to Elon Musk, satellite connectivity could support “one to two thousand simultaneous voice calls or hundreds of thousands of text messages that could be sent depending on the length of the text message” given the available bandwidth.
Phones with satellite connectivity are primarily used to eliminate dead spots in cellular networks and handle emergencies. MMS, (text) messaging, and even “selected messaging apps” will all be supported by T-Mobile.
The company stated that in order to “separate messaging traffic from all other data traffic,” collaboration with partners will be required. This work has not yet begun, but it will in the upcoming months. In the long run, it will consider supporting voice and data. The service’s initial beta launch is scheduled for late 2023.
Existing iPhone and Android devices will still be supported, but additional OS-level support should improve the overall user experience, especially for end users. T-Mobile and SpaceX, meanwhile, are urging other carriers to implement spectrum sharing and “reciprocal roaming.” As adoption rises, it makes sense for Android to offer native support.